I think the testing requirements for new drugs and other medical treatments may have gone too far towards the "precautionary principal." Every tragic case of a new drug turning out to have dangerous side effects pushes us a bit further the same way, whereas countless cases of people dying, or having greately reduced quality of life for want of new treatments goes unremarked.

Getting a treatment to market is now so expensive that only a handful of companies can now afford to attempt it, creating a kind of complex monopoly. Treatements derived from proper, open, scientific research tend to be unpatentable, and consequently nobody will fund the necessary trials.

Why is this idea important?

I think we desparately need to open up the development of drugs to new, smaller players. While the industry is completely dominated by a handful of multi-nationals they can cherry pick the most profitable targets. In particular there's more money in supportive treatment than in cures. More profit in the minor ailments of the developed world than in the killer diseases of the third world.

 

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