Posted by Al Gordon on July 26, 2003 at 15:40:03:
In Reply to: Quick Al, think of a cute way to discredit this posted by Dr. Profit on July 25, 2003 at 21:34:01:
Dear Dr. Profit,
Here comes my "cute" response.
You have convinced me that what we need more than anything is a Bioethicist Ethics Review Board, because the practices you describe are despicable conflicts of interest by people who present themselves as altruistic guardians of ethical behavior. At least the drug companies are money-grubbing capitalists, whose loyalties are clearly to their shareholders. Ethicists pretend to answer to some higher calling, but as you have demonstrated, their motives are as base as the drug companies, and their dishonesty staggering. Bioethicists must have brilliant PR hacks polishing their image and hiding their real loyalties from a public who trusts them.
In comparing bioethicists to drug companies, I have to ask how many lifesaving drugs, fom insulin to antibiotics to anti-cancer drugs, have been developed by bioethicists, versus how many have been developed by drug companies? As I recall, before the recent crop of bioethicists even existed, the drug companies were cranking out products that saved lives and reduced human suffering. And they did it all for filthy lucre!! I tend to look at the practical results of drug company activity, and leave it to others to speculate on why they did it.
At the other end of the bioethicist scale, I have personally witnessed immense damage being done by bioethicists who pushed for a moratorium on xenotransplantation because of unspeakable risks such as "the yuk factor" and "the profound loss of identity as a result of transplanting animal cells into humans". How these people came to believe that they have a right to block a promising medical innovation because of some imaginary identity problem that exists only in their minds, is beyond me. The damage that some bioethicists have done by failing to mind their own business, and by whining about how "These are questions that must be answered!", has been immense. No corporate corruption, here, just Salem-era busybodies acting well beyond their intellect regardless of the suffering they cause.
Now let's look at that heroine of the anti-corporate crowd, Nancy Olivieri. Dr Olivieri was running a clinical trial in Toronto of deferiprone, a drug that Apotex hoped to market for clearing toxic iron from thalassemia patients. Trials were also being run in Europe. Sufferers were mainly children who had to be connected for hours or days every week to an intravenous feed to deal with deadly iron accumulation. Deferiprone was a pill that would hopefully achieve the same goal without the horrible burden and loss of personal freedom endured by the patients. Dr Olivieri then went public with what turned out to be a totally erroneous observation, and fell so in love with the role of martyr, that she was unable to admit she made a mistake and act in he best interests of her patients. And guess what? The clinical trials in Europe proved the safety and efficacy of deferiprone, and it is now an approved treatment. What the anti-corporate crowd is unable to accept is that Nancy Olivieri was wrong! and had a greater loyalty to her own martyrdom than to her patients. Apotex were like a bull in a china shop (this was their first non-generic drug), but in my opinion there was a far greater villian.
And so I would like to suggest that drug companies are driven entirely by enlightened self-interest and need to be regulated and managed in the public inetrest, while still being allowed the financial reward that is needed for people to take such immense risks. Bioethicists and advocacy groups such as ADA are the ones that really need to be called to task for the damage they do while parading themsleves as our saviors.
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