Thursday, January 17, 2019

Shut-downs come and go

[A draft from almost exactly a year ago. Blogger has the annoying characteristic of automatically re-dating posts.]

Of the myriad claims and liists of the dire consequences of the government's "shutdown," none that I have seen are more checkout counter tabloid-like than the one put together by Mother Jones. The long list is kicked off with two doozies:
1. Patients out of options: The National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center will stop admitting patients into its clinical trials. During the 2013 shutdown, 200 patients, including two dozen children with cancer, were unable to seek experimental treatment.

The children-with-cancer card is a tried-and-true PR tool. NIH plays the card regularly as do vivisectors and their lobbyists. Scratching the crocodile-tear-soaked patina suggests that the two dozen children appealed to by Mother Jones were unlikely to have been helped even if there had not been a shutdown.

Experimental treatments are, overwhelmingly, failures. If they weren't, we'd already have a cure for whatever form of cancer these unfortunate children had. And, being enrolled in a clinical trial is no guarantee that one would receive the experimental treatment; one might be in the control group and not receive the treatment. Because such trials are blinded, no one knows what group they are in, so at least everyone can have some hope. But hope can be found in many places, even outside of an government-funded experimental treatment experiment. The main thing is that essentially all experimental treatments fail, and so it is mere pandering to point to a dozen children with cancer who were not enrolled in an experimental study as a result of a brief government shutdown and a cause of serious concern.
2. Patients waiting on a cure: The NIH will stop accepting grant proposals, putting a hold on new medical research.

This is more absurd than the children with cancer not being able to be part of an experiment highly unlikely to be of any benefit to them. The implication is that a few days delay in being able to submit an NIH grant proposal is going to delay some new drug or therapy coming on the market. Whoever came decided to include this on the list, and in such a prominent spot, is utterly clueless. They should have done their homework:
The Medical Revolution Where are the cures promised by stem cells, gene therapy, and the human genome?
Andy Grove: Where are the Cures?!
Desperately Seeking Cures
Where Are the Cures?

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