How far for Health And Well Being

This week (Dec 11-14, 2006) CNN’s show Anderson Cooper 360 asks the question how far would you go for Health and Well Being? This link is a place where you can provide feedback.

My questions are

1. What is wrong with our society that we have to go outside the United States for better, newer or cheaper treatments for Health and Well being?

A clear example of what is wrong is people like Leon Kass, advisor to George Bush, who has religious and gender biases and does not want advances to change how much death there is or how soon it happens. He even questions the advances in the 20th century extending life expectancy.

2. Why is the FDA approval and the scientific research not adjusted to achieve faster results and approvals ? The system needs to take into account the risks that an individual already faces from ineffective treatments. We should not have delays that do not result in actual increases in safety.

Updated: FDA has just today proposed a new investigational drug rule to make it easier for those with no other treatment option to try drugs that have not been approved yet.

3. We need to focus medical research guided by metrics for results in extending lifespan and improved health. There is too much money going into treatments that are not improving lifespan but which replace a marginal effective but profitable drug for treating some symptom. Too much just flows to institutions that have historically received money but which are not measured by the results that they have delivered.

4. There is also the budget tension between hospices and costs for those who are sick and research to actually cure aging and disease. The bulk of the money for medical research should be focused on impacting aging processes and resistance and recuperation from disease. The allocation should be made at the top level. Budget $X for underlying causes of aging and interventions, C$ for disease cures, Y$ for symptom management and Z$ for hospice care. The X$ amount is far too small and often gets diverted into the other buckets.

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