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Exploring Human Potential

Uncoupling Scientific Progress From Human Progress: How Did We Arrive At This Place? A Three Part Series.

Posted on | December 22, 2016 | No Comments

Source: studentblogs.med.ed.ac.uk

Mike Magee

A fundamental principle in human physiology and homeostasis is the negative feedback loop. When the body produces too much of something, a negative signal is transmitted back to the source which limits further production until peripheral over-production declines. These systems of checks and balances have evolved over the millennia to protect us and ensure our survival. But when it comes to political science, such protection is being dismantled through a system of strategic partnering from within the Medical-Industrial Complex.

The New York Times banner headline this week read, “Harnessing the U.S. Taxpayer to Fight Cancer and Make Profits”. It documented the unusual partnership between Kite Pharma, a cancer immunotherapy start-up run by serial entrepreneur, Arie Nelldegrun, and the U.S. government. The fundamental underlying CAR-T immunotherapy research was the output of Nelldegrun’s mentor, Steven Rosenberg,  at the National Cancer Institute (N.C.I.). Taxpayers have contributed about $10 million to Rosenberg’s lab since 2012, and Kite has kicked in an additional $3 million a year to accelerate drug development by the N.C.I., but future profitability Kite’s control. In some of the deals (there have been 8 contracts since 2012), Kite receives patent use in return for promises of royalties paid to the N.C.I.

In the same week as these cozy relationships were revealed, the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act further greased the slide for accelerated drug approval by the NIH, and the new FDA Commissioner, Robert Califf, described in this weeks JAMA a cooperative arrangement between the FDA and the CMS that would blur the boundaries between the two organizations in exchange for efficient creation of future scientific advances. The moves are necessary, he says, to “help reduce current gaps in evidence that create uncertainty surrounding the approval or clearance of new therapies and their subsequent use in practice. It should also enable greater efficiency in medical product development and provide the higher-quality evidence needed in the emerging era of precision medicine.”

All this proceeds as daily we absorb case after case of over-marketing, over-pricing and over-selling of drugs and medical devices into an American market that consumes them at twice the rate of most civilized nations. Scientific progress appears to have been uniquely decoupled in our nation from human progress. How did we get here?

I’ll address that in Part II of this three part series.

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