The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006

When Public Advocacy Goes Wrong 

Chalk up another moron point to Ralph Nader for unilaterally deciding that people with otherwise untreatable Narcolepsy should not be allowed to decide whether the risk of liver cancer is worthwhile given that they could otherwise have a normal functioning life on the drug:

Narcolepsy Network Inc., announced to its members today that Abbott Laboratories will cease production of Cylert, a medication used by an estimated 10,000 Americans afflicted with the sleep disorders of narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia. In an untreated state, both of these disorders are characterized by excessive sleepiness and sleep attacks during the day. At the same time, Public Citizen's Health Research Group, on behalf of individuals with ADHD, has petitioned the FDA to ban Cylert and its generic equivalent, Pemoline, due to risks associated with this medication.

And there is this more personal story:

Cylert (generic name "pemoline") has been the most effective treatment for Teresa's narcolepsy in 24 years since she was first diagnosed. She's been taking it for most of that time. Now it's gone.

We discovered this when we tried to refill her standard prescription, just before Christmas, and the pharmacy didn't have any—and, after some confusion, reported back that the wholesaler didn't have any either, because (surprise!) it's no longer being made.

Cylert has been implicated in some people's liver problems. Teresa is regularly tested and her liver is fine. Evidently Abbott, makers of brand-name Cylert, discontinued it in March—but Sandoz intended to keep making the generic version, until the FDA, pressured by Nader’s group, weighed in to discontinue it entirely—despite a last-minute appeal from the Narcolepsy Network. Thank you, Public Citizen, for completely shafting my wife.

H/T to Asymmetrical Information who is just as disgusted as I am. Of course, the people who push for these outright bans are ironically usually the same ones who push for a "woman's right to choose". Isn't interesting that they think a person's ability to consult with their doctor and weigh the pros and cons of medical decisions seems so limited?

These people need to get a serious reality check. There is rarely, if ever, such a thing as a cure that has not side effects. Period. The fact that these people think that any product that has even the smallest flaw should be outright banned is truly astounding. They live in a dream world. Every day, people have to way the benefits and consequences of all sorts of things, and have the right to do so for themselves.


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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