Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Isn't supporting this research part of government's role?

When a possible cure involves no promise of large profits from newly patented medicines, and when there is a competing hypothesis which has already gained enormous political support and government financing, the possible cure must go begging for financial support.

In this
New York Times article, the possibility of a relatively inexpensive cure for Type I diabetes seems promising--but must rely on a fund raising campaign headed by Lee Iacocca to get started.

The reason for the resistance, Dr. Faustman and some colleagues believe, was simple: her findings, which raise the possibility that an inexpensive, readily available drug might effectively treat Type 1 or juvenile diabetes, challenge widespread assumptions. Many diabetes researchers insist that a cure lies instead in research on stem cells and islet cell transplants.

Dr. Faustman's story, scientists say, illustrates the difficulties that creative scientists can have when their work questions conventional wisdom and runs into entrenched interests. But if she is correct, scientists will also have to reconsider many claims for embryonic stem cells as a cure for diabetes, and perhaps for other diseases.

Ironically, research on an inexpensive cure based on a drug which has been around so long that the patent has expired ought to be a shoo-in for government funding, but stem cell research is currently the most attractive idea to government bureaucrats who control the grant process. We need the government to step in where the potential profits are too small to attract private investment, but we have bureaucrats who focus on what they think is "cutting edge" research.

PS--Rather than simply wait for the ship of state to turn slowly towards a policy of seeking out such worthy research projects, check out the fund raising campaign of Mr. Iacocca at the link above, and seriously consider sending a donation.


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