Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Right to Take Risks When You’re Already Dying

Some good news from the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. yesterday: in a 2-1 decision, they ruled that that terminally ill patients have the right to take experimental drugs that have passed Phase I of FDA review (which determines whether a product is safe), but have not yet been formally approved by the agency. Kudos to the court for making a decision that puts power into the hands of patients, not bureacrats, to make decisions about the risks they want to take. Typically, there are worry-warts shouting from the sidelines about safety and that the Court has “invented” the right to take a substance into your own body. The WaPo also manages to make the “slippery slope” argument in a whine-filled editorial:

If this right is real, it potentially calls into question the whole fabric of drug regulation. Why do only terminally ill patients have it? Why doesn't an itchy eczema victim have a right to some new cream? Does the government have an obligation to fund the right for indigents who cannot afford access on their own? For that matter, why does the right only apply to drugs that have passed Phase I testing -- that is, preliminary safety trials? Why, in other words, doesn't the principle the court embraces create a right to LSD or marijuana, for which people have made all kinds of extraordinary medical claims?

Exactly (although this isn’t the point they’re trying to make) – we SHOULD be calling into question the hole fabric of drug regulation. The question shouldn’t be whether someone has the “right” to a certain drug (for medical reasons or not), but whether the government has the “right” to keep those drugs away from people who want them (and may have legitimate medical reasons for wanting to try them).

[HT: To the People]


At 1:53 PM, Blogger Molly said...

Oooh, that editorial really irritates me. I love how the people need to argue for and find "proof" for their rights, when the government seems to have blanket permission to fill the spaces in between. Again, if a few more people would peruse a basic civics book, they'd see the intent of our government at its creation was quite the opposite. But I'm starting to sound like a broken record.

At 2:11 PM, Blogger Scott McC said...

I'm interested in hearing what our resident pharmacist has to say about this.


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