Room of Doom

I passed by that Room of Doom every day for two weeks when I was working at an odd job between classes.

It was a terrible place but when I first went by I had no reason to know the terror lurking within.

Parents brought their children to that room.  The children had received a death sentence that no lawyer could mitigate.  The children had received a diagnosis of juvenile leukemia.  There was no cure, not even a treatment.  All that waited for the children was an early painful death.

Parents could sit all day with a doomed child in that awful room hoping for a miracle and be told at the end of the day a doctor might be able to see the child the next day.  Volunteers for clinical trials were treated badly those days.  Not always so great today I suppose.

“We are going to cure that cancer,”  a doctor told me.  “This is not John Hopkins.  This is much better.”

Uh huh.

He did.  

He and many other doctors and scientists.  And many other hospitals.  Maybe even John Hopkins.

More than half of children with juvenile leukemia are cured today.

There are always headwinds that must be fought.  Obstructionists like Ralph Nader and Pfizer and Wall Street wolves and journalists and the FDA and liberals.

Liberals?

Strange is it not?  Yeah, liberals worry that Pfizer and Merck and Novartis might make too much money as they join arms with Pfizer and Merck and Novartis and the FDA to keep revolutionary new drug platforms out of the marketplace that might keep children and their parents and grandparents and relatives and friends from dying of terrible diseases.

Journalists spend lots of time talking about new killer drugs.  Not so much time talking about new life-saving drugs.

While Bill Gates was bragging at the U.N. on how his and Melinda’s billions had produced a wonderful new pill to cure brain rot (african sleeping sickness – the african form of trypanosomiasis), Jim Cramer’s Street.com was publishing a suggestion that trials in The Congo were a hoax.  The company that functioned as the commercialization arm of the university consortium developing the drug was undergoing a bear raid and was under fierce assault.  Many small stock traders claimed to be making millions shorting the stock along with the institutional types.  Recently your fine government listed the same company on a proscribed list of companies doing business in The Sudan.  The company is paying for clinical trials of their drug treating trypanosomiasis in Darfur.

That same pill was thought to maybe be able to treat up to a billion people or so with diseases ranging from malaria to a pneumonia (pneumocystis pneumonia) that attacks those with devastated immune systems – AIDS patients, transplant patients, the very elderly.  The trials with malaria haven’t gone as well as hoped but the drug may successfully treat pregnant women without harming their fetuses and be a mild prophylaxis for those traveling to malaria endemic regions.

There are folks that want to change things.  I was first attracted to Barack Obama for a little noticed bill he proposed that might direct the FDA to do some good rather than harm.  John Edwards has an idea.  Not sure it is not a disastrous idea but it deserves a hearing no matter how much Armando and his ilk hate John Edwards.  JE has a powerful personal incentive to want things to go well for drug research.  Her name is Elizabeth.  Shame on you, John.

Best,  Terry

6 comments

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    • Tigana on November 24, 2007 at 5:05 am

    http://lcurve.org

    If money could be measured in bulk, Gates and guys like him would have an Everest of the stuff. You and I would have a bar of soap, or a deck of cards, or less. Gates and Co. could solve education, malnutrition, diseases and more without breaking a sweat and still have mountains of money left.

    The very same corpos that make hugely profitable cancer cures sell chemicals that pollute the environment and cause cancer. Why candidates are not using contributions in an intelligent way to fix New Orleans and show us how they would lead would be beyond me if I hadn’t understood that medicine and politics are NOT about changing things.

    • Pluto on November 24, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Nice job, Terry.

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