Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Who Should Decide?

Derek Lowe runs one of the most interesting blogs available, a useful antidote to the knee-jerk "drug companies are the fount of all evil" hysteria that is so easy, it seems, for people to fall into.

Today he addresses an item that has exploded into the blogosphere.

Please go read it. My own view is that we deserve the opportunity to make informed choices. This is vaguely a question in the ongoing Canadian election campaign as well, in slightly different forms. I have no taste for the sort of managerial meddling that Nader supports and it seems pretty clear he chose a bad target this time.

6 Comments:

At 2:21 AM, Blogger Dan said...

Al, I don't know if they are the front of "all" evil, but drug companies are perpetrators of many evil and immoral practices.

I include profiting from research and development at the expense of people's lives as evil though so maybe I am a little twisted in that sense.

 
At 2:23 AM, Blogger Dan said...

However I would add that your calling out of this particular event as maybe not being too far out on the evil limb.

 
At 6:15 AM, Blogger Alan Adamson said...

"perpetrators of many evil and immoral practices.

I include profiting from research and development at the expense of people's lives as evil though so maybe I am a little twisted in that sense."

That sounds like painting with a pretty broad brush; have you actual specifics? And please do not suggestr that merely making profit is evil. Have you got some better proposal on how to develop new drugs, that would avoid some of the risks you are undoubtedly talking about? Or is this just a rant?

 
At 6:11 AM, Blogger Dan said...

Maybe abit of a rant.

I agree the particular incident that you are citing here is pretty marginal in the grand scheme of things.

But I will add that I found the drug company's concerted effort to try to block the use of cheap generic hiv drugs in africa was pretty indicative of their overall motivations.

I'm also not sure how wonderfully great all the new drugs they are "developping" really are in the grand scheme of things. We probably don't need alot of new develop to alleviate the fundamental problems of most people in the world.

Profits aren't in themselves inherently evil but the system that we've built around worshipping them and protecting the rights of reaping them probably is getting pretty close being very evil.

I think we are living in very evil times, even if life is pretty good for some people in some countries at the moment.

Al, there's alot of craziness in the way that we in the world are behaving today. Do you think I'm wrong?

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger Alan Adamson said...

"But I will add that I found the drug company's concerted effort to try to block the use of cheap generic hiv drugs in africa was pretty indicative of their overall motivations."

Hmm - confiscation of the results of significant investments put in place to better people's lives (and of course also make returns for the investors, no contradiction there) is not a way to encourage more of those investments, though I suspect many of your political heroes have devoted much of their energies to such ambitions. I think this is a very complex issue. There were surely smarter ways to get cheaper AIDS drugs to Africans than to steal them from the drug companies. Some of the methods might have involved shooting some rotten African leaders.
I think you should rethink your devotion to what you fancy to be people's motivations - the best intentions are pretty poor at leading to the best results.
One wise suggestion I have heard is that governments BUY the property rights from the drug companies, if they tihnk this is all so important. Clearly they don't. (Despite Bono, Geldof, etc, though they might not have quite figured out that idea themsleves.)

"I'm also not sure how wonderfully great all the new drugs they are "developping" really are in the grand scheme of things. We probably don't need alot of new develop to alleviate the fundamental problems of most people in the world."

Well, read Derek's blog a little - I was pointing at it mostly for people with views like yours. Development (of anything) for commercial purposes is hard work. Is it of any value? I am pretty stunned you have such a casual attitude to the obvious benefits of drug development over the last 50 years (or have you bothered to find out how great that might be?). Of course this may not address what you see as 'fundamental problems' - but I suspect the beneficiaries of the developments, who are people somewhat like you and me, except for possibly needing those drugs for better lives, might take it somewhat amiss that the quality of their lives is considered peripheral. It is not to them, or to their loved ones (well, maybe some of them have loved ones, like you, who consider it peripheral).

"Profits aren't in themselves inherently evil but the system that we've built around worshipping them and protecting the rights of reaping them probably is getting pretty close being very evil."

This is pure blather. Any sensible person I know who worries about profits and property rights, etc., recognizes that there are complex questions around them, but that they are fundamental to the growing well-being of people on this planet.

"I think we are living in very evil times, even if life is pretty good for some people in some countries at the moment."

This almost makes me feel sorry for you. Go read some history. Life is actually pretty good for people, compared to fairly recent history, in a lot of countries, with poverty decreasing significantly. Mind you, this might not be true of the societies I understand from other communicatiosn to me that you regard as meritorious.

"Al, there's alot of craziness in the way that we in the world are behaving today. Do you think I'm wrong?"

Wrong, I don't know. I think you need to chill out a bit. We cannot make the world perfect, and my gut feel is how you want to try to improve it is applying a bunch of realy bad ideas.

 
At 8:38 PM, Blogger Alan Adamson said...

And others pipe in. I think many of the comments on this post on Derek's blog, responding to his posting - http://www.corante.com/pipeline/archives/2006/01/05/ugly_but_effective.php - are very good.

 

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