Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Health Care’s Legal Drug Deals

by Dr. Ada Fisher - October 11th, 2011

I repeatedly cringe when I hear` politicians talk about the corruption in the way medicines are patented, made, dispensed and regulated as if they aren’t part of the problem. The regulations in place regarding medicines are keeping or delaying the entry of some onto the market because they have not met the required safety trials and had enough case studies to identify potentially hazardous side effects. The manner in which medicines are manufactured is not controlling shortages of essentials including epinephrine used to treat shock, potential vaccines, cancer chemotherapeutic agents and hospital drugs mainly including sterile injectibles. The movie “Contagion” spells out clearly what problems we face if we don’t plan better.

Was the Human Papilloma Vaccine (HPV)’s production hastened since another manufacturer was threatening to encroach on the money to be made from this vaccine as Congresswoman Bachman hints? Should only girls have been targeted since boys carry the virus? Were enough study cases done before the vaccine was brought to market to insure its safety?

In my opinion, one of the worst federal legislative moves was to give vaccine producers an exemption from liability if they made them believing that this would prompt more to compete for this business and decrease the costs. So who will bear the financial burden created by those who now develop side effects from these vaccines such as that had with Guillian Barre Syndrome (a form of paralysis) caused by a previous Swine Flu? Is the government now liable for these costs, particularly when companies may not have shown due diligence in completing adequate safety research?

As our baby boomers continue to age into the over 55 generation, our problems with medication availability for those diseases associated with aging such as cancer will increase. Doxcil (AIDS, ovarian cancer, breast cancer), Taxol (breast cancer, ovarian cancer), Cisplastin (ovarian, bladder, lung cancers) and 5 FU (invented by one of my professors Charles Heidelberger who played a critical role in my medical school training) are a few of the 213 drugs all in short supply on any given day depending on your location and facility’s connection to the manufacturing pipeline.

Even Propofol, an anesthetic which Michael Jackson had no problem acquiring, is in short supply in many hospitals. This means that doctors are being asked to play G-d and decisions on care are increasingly rationed by criteria that are neither universally acknowledged nor sanctioned by some medical body.

The drug pipeline slows when drugs are made into generics some companies may lose money that could have been shuffled to research and pocketed profits or drug company consolidations have forced out some research drugs which have high need value but low profitability reality. Designer drugs specifically targeted to diseases are are costly and more difficult to make which insurance doesn’t always want to cover; meaning if the government won’t pay the bill or a patient is not in a research protocol he is not likely to get it. Third party payers are increasingly dictating who can get what without regard to life saving potential, curative benefit or necessary research study value. In other words if you don’t have the money up front, you aren’t always likely to get what you need.

Is anyone asking for a full disclosure of the ties of our politicians to drug and pharmaceutical concerns and lobbyists?

Who is going to pay the bill to extend our lives even when we abuse our bodies?

Who should be the judge of what care is available?

Who should have priority for treatment?

Are we really ready for the big time of Nationalized Health Care—more rationing of care?

A think the question really comes down to a simple one. Will we get better care, even if we are poor, if we depend on the government bureaucrats of socialized medicine or if we depend on the historical success of each person seeking out a private doctor for medical care and recommendations of drugs that will help?

I know what I think.


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