We Already Have Death Panels

Posted by Jason | Posted in Health Care | Posted on 29-03-2010

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Democrats were jumping ugly when Sarah Palin said under ObamaCare we would have death panels. What she didn’t mention is that we already have death panels. Every year people die while the FDA forces companies to funnel money into their coffers, so they can “protect” us.

But what if we don’t want protected? Shouldn’t we have a choice?

Last month, Stossel had a special on how the FDA’s claims of being our protectors. He highlighted that when the FDA states that a new drug that they just approved will save X number of lives per year, what they are really saying is their 10 to 15 year drug approval period costs X number of lives every year while they held up the drug for approval.

The incentives at the FDA are to drag out drug approvals despite the lives it costs. There is no public uproar for those who die waiting. There is only uproar for those who take a drug that has been approved and results in side effects. With this upside down incentive, the FDA more than likely costs more lives than it would other wise cost if drugs were not regulated at all.

“Well, that’s just the system.”, you say. “You can’t really call that a death panel.”

But what if you were dying, and you wanted to take a drug that has shown promise? What if the only way to get the drug was to beg your government to allow you to have it? Well that is the reality many people face. Because the FDA has a monopoly on approving drugs, those who are the most ill among us must beg for the chance to save their own lives. What do side effects matter when you are going to die anyway? At least with an experimental drug, you might have a chance. Without it, the result is already known. Why does the government decide you should not have that opportunity? Who gave them the wisdom to decide someone must die?

The reason they cannot let people have untested drugs is because people would quickly catch onto their game. Soon people would challenge the idea of the FDA altogether, and to prevent that, they must let people die, people like Anna Tomalis, a 13 year old girl who fought to the very end to make sure others would have the opportunity she was denied.

Here is a blog post about Anna Tomalis followed by Stossel’s show where he talks about her.

Last Friday, I attended the funeral of a remarkable 13-year-old girl named Anna Tomalis. For the past three years, Anna had been battling terminal cancer and, more recently, trying to get the Food and Drug Administration to grant a “compassionate use” exemption so she could try an experimental cancer drug now being jointly developed by the pharmaceutical companies ARIAD and Merck. Unfortunately, FDA rarely grants exemptions. If too many exemptions are granted, it would become harder to enroll patients in clinical trials, where they have as much as a 50-50 chance of getting a placebo. Anna was too young and too sick to be admitted to any of the clinical trials, so that wasn’t at issue here. But, of course, the whole point of FDA is to keep individuals from making their own decisions about which drugs to take. So, eventually, after months of delay, FDA finally approved Anna’s exemption, but it came too late. She died just three weeks after beginning treatment — too little time for the drug to have worked.

I got to meet Anna and her mother Liz a few months ago, through a patient advocacy organization called the Abigail Alliance For Better Access To Developmental Drugs, with which CEI works occasionally. And, I continued to correspond with them both by e-mail ever since. Though I certainly did not know Anna very well, the service was quite moving. Her father, Ron, for example, explained that Anna realized all along that her chances of survival weren’t good. But, keeping a good attitude about the whole thing, Anna insisted that she be buried in a hot pink casket. Since no one actually makes a hot pink casket, her parents had to buy a non-descript one and take it to an auto body shop to have it painted pink.

Anna also tried to use her impending death in order to promote a change in the law that would make it easier for critically ill patients to get compassionate use exemptions. Even though she realized she wouldn’t last long enough to benefit personally from such a change, she visited Washington several times in order to advocate for such a policy. My op-ed on the subject appeared in this past weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal, and can be read here.

via Anna Tomalis, R.I.P. | OpenMarket.org.

Some “Compassionate use” exemption. Why should free people have to ask their government for an exemption? Shouldn’t we decide if we want to take a risk, when we already know what’s going to happen without doing anything? There is no compassion in government. Anytime, you see something titled like this, you can guess the exact opposite is true. There is nothing compassionate about a cold bureaucrat who wields the power of the state. They will let nothing, even a little girl, challenge their position to wield that power.

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Comments (2)

It was an excellent episode, and really made you think about the system we have now and why we have it. The sad part is most statists will defend the FDA (any gov program, really) to the bitter end, despite clear proof that these programs never work as advertised and the unintended consequences are almost always worse than the intended ones.

As we’ve said before here, the FDA really should be optional. If you want the FDA label, you can pay the billion dollars in testing and go through the 10-15 years for approval, or alternatively you can go without the label and let the market decide if people are willing to give up the “peace of mind” for a cheaper product (my guess is most probably would).

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John,

Stossel’s show is awesome. It’s a shame its on Foxbiz. I’d prefer he replace O’reilly’s ass, and then have Judge Napolitano on after that.

The FDA should be optional if it exists at all. Where in the constitution does it give the federal gov’t that power?

The private market could just as easily ferret out the bad drugs. It’s just that most Americans are for the free market anymore. They’ve been brainwashed by the government that the free market is dangerous and the government is the protector. As I’ve said in a past blog, it’s like the abusive spouse telling the abused spouse they’d be nothing without them. They are protecting them.

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