The Doctor and The Dying Woman

“I am dying, doctor.  What should be done?”

“Get better parents next time.”

Most everyone here has probably read of the “dying woman,” Kathy Stengl, who is confronting presidential candidates.  The following is just one account:…

[Mike Huckabee] greeted her. She told him of her diagnosis and a need to redirect health care spending.

“Actually, that’s what I did in Arkansas,” Huckabee said. “We started moving our whole state system toward prevention.”

Stangl asked what he would do as president to change the national health care system.

Huckabee responded that it must start with federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

The preacher did a bit better than Dr. Ron Paul might have done but not much.  If Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (Lam) is a genetic disease, as suspected, the only prevention would be preventing the birth of those with the defect.  Since Huckabee is a right-to-lifer, one might shudder at his proposal for prevention.

An FDA commissioner on a good morning can kill more people than a Saddam Hussein or George Bush can kill in a lifetime.  It is not generally recognized the power these fine folk have. Some of the worst of the lot, like David Kessler, are heroes to the Naderites, who are joined in an unholy alliance with Big Pharma to keep revolutionary new drugs off the market.  The Naderites would keep the ghastly clinical trials going indefinitely to be really, really sure new drugs are safe enough.  Big Pharma has the resources to conduct very large trials required of new drugs with minimal, or even no advantage, over currently marketed drugs.   Small biotechs with truly revolutionary drug platforms scrap for a tiny share of funds and must additionally overcome the troglodytes at the FDA, who like the familiar and comfortable best.  

Once retarded children were considered the ideal candidates for medical experimentation.  Prisoners were a handy resource since there were obvious ways of gaining consent.  Today volunteers are treated much better but the healthy volunteers in this country for testing a new drug for safety are said to be mainly college students, who presumably need the money bad.  Increasingly trials are conducted in underdeveloped countries where the rules are laxer.  

Jenner’s smallpox vaccine was tried first on a young boy who was then exposed to smallpox to see if the boy would contract the disease. I asked the CEO if the FDA had approved exposing volunteers for an initial clinical trial of a malaria prophylactic to malaria.  The FDA had.  For the record, the malaria variety was said to be mild and easily cured but the Hippocratic Oath doesn’t seem to stand well in this case. Beats the heck out of Jenner’s method I suppose.

Karyl Stengl is said to be one of 500 diagnosed cases of LAM but the American Lung Association thinks there may be at least a quarter of a million cases.

Once upon a time, this country was busily engaged in fighting disease.  Today the country is rather engaged mostly in other wars and concerned mostly about saving money with minimum care for the ill.  After all, everybody has to die of something.

BTW nothing at all has saved more lives and expense than effective vaccines.  It is far more expensive and time-consuming to get a vaccine through clinical trials than drugs.

It would be best if you stay healthy and avoid burdening your country and its budget.  We are already having to print an awful lot of new money.

Merry Christmas.

Best,  Terry

1 comment

    • frosti on December 25, 2007 at 23:59

    if I have seen 2 cases in my residency years in Seattle.  Unless they were both in the same family. I assume there are more cases.  It is shocking to me that recently some of my patients with shortness of breath, a history of heart disease and asthma, don’t even get a chest xray when they go into the urgent care center.  How can you tell what is wrong if you don’t look for it?

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