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November 22, 2006

Why We Haven't Cured The Common Cold (Or Cancer Or Aging)

According to Cato, it's due to government regulation.

You just can't make this stuff up.

November 22, 2006 | Permalink


I am not even going to read that. Let me explain something about both topics, and how this is yet again an assault on empiricism trumped by idealogy: both the common cold and cancer are not one disease they are hundreds, if not, thousands of diseases. To 'cure' these diseases will require decades of research although we have completed the human genome project, and thinks like stem cell research, and cancer vaccines for various kinds of canceres are showing promise. Just to get into the heart of the matter- lung cancer, which kills about 170,000 Americans a year, is actually itself various types of cancers, each with their own unique characteristics, and each with their own set of problems- is it undifferentiated? Is it small cell? etc. We have only in the last decade started to move beyond the therapies that have been around for 30 to 50 years, ie, chemo, surgery, radiation- to new therapies, vaccines, genes, poison pills, etc. This has come about because of basic research funded through the cancer research centers maintained through funding from the government.

On a personal note, I had to deal with this issue with regards to a family member who I was trying to get on an experimental drug protocal that had been showing promise. The problem wasn't regulation- the problem was the proprietary interest of the hospital that I was at, and the drug companies that were also involved in the research, versus the research center providing all the options, including those not at their hospital. I would later find out that the drug was approved, and did have a descent shot of helping patients with a certain protein found on the surface of the cancer cells.

I never knew that because of the private sector proprietary interests (in my opinion of the doctors). So, when they talk about this stuff through their idealogy, rather than what will maximize the best results- which is not for proof motives to be involved in which protocals people advocate (this is merely an example of how regulation would have helped).

Posted by: akaison | Nov 22, 2006 2:34:27 PM

Windley has his link posted in the Humor category, which I suspect was the intent.

Posted by: Sanpete | Nov 22, 2006 3:24:45 PM

OK, seriously: If the computer industry were running under the same conditions as biotech, this is how it would work:

I'm reminded of the old 'if your car were designed by Microsoft' e-mail. If the biotech industry were as error-prone as software development, we'd all have been wiped out by some mutant anthrax-ebola hybrid.

Posted by: Tom Hilton | Nov 22, 2006 4:51:23 PM

Having just spent the better part of the last two days dealing with my husband's health issues, all I have to say is:

Health insurance companies' own freaking creaking bureaucracies is most definitely a huge chunk of the problem.

We have Kaiser, which is widely recognized as one of the better HMOs out there. And still, trying to get treatment for my husband when he doubled over in pain yesterday has been a pain in the ass.

I won't bore all of you with the gory details, but here's a few notes: There is a non-Kaiser hospital with emergency room 1/4 of a mile from our home, so rather than drive 20 minutes down to Kaiser, I took him there. The emergency room staff, on seeing his Kaiser card, built their entire treatment plan around the fact that Kaiser has an extreme reluctance for its members to get treated anywhere else. They got him stabilized, told us he was going to need surgery, sent us home, and told us to call Kaiser.

We had a brief appointment with a gatekeeper at Kaiser today who agreed with everything we were told yesterday. And now we have to wait two weeks before we can even talk to a surgeon and find out when surgery will occur.

His condition is unlikely to be life-threatening except if some uncommon circumstances occur, so having to wait a few weeks is not the worst thing. At least we have insurance and he'll get the care he needs, although not as fast as I would like. It just really frustrates me that we have to jump through so many hoops and drive to a facility 20 miles away rather than get everything taken care of at the perfectly good hospital that's literally walking distance from our home.

Posted by: fiat lux | Nov 22, 2006 5:14:41 PM

fiat lux,

You must be mistaken. American insurance companies don't ration care; only government plans do that.

Somehow, this is all your fault.

Snark aside, I do hope that your husband is ok, and that he heals quickly and easily.

Posted by: Stephen | Nov 22, 2006 6:35:54 PM

Thanks. Sorry for the vent; I guess I needed to blow off a bit of steam.

Posted by: fiat lux | Nov 22, 2006 7:05:56 PM

Main difference between the the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Data Administration:

Computers can't kill you simply by using them the way the manufacturer intended. Not even if they're running the biggest pile of that-is-a-feature-not-a-bug software on a monstrosity made by the obscene bastard child of Dell and Gateway.

Drugs can.

We won't have to worry about this conflagration until after they come out with a consumer-friendly Direct Neural Interface.

Posted by: Off Colfax | Nov 22, 2006 8:02:55 PM

Bill Walker strikes me as someone who knows just enough to get people hurt.

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I pin the blame on society, and ignorance of the people within it.

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