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Ethics in the Gleevec Story

            The intersection of drugs and the common good for society can be very complicated. We often perceive drug regulation as something that adds to the common good of the people. The people in question include those who are currently diagnosed with disease and others who can potentially be exposed in their lifetimes. There is a very fine balance that regulating authorities like the FDA have to tread to make sure the common good of the people, not one person's individual benefit. When a patient facing death demands the right to an experimental drug, is it responsible to give them a chance or is it necessary to prioritize the impact that decision can have on millions of other patients and their families in the larger global community.
             Drugs can be harmful for a number of reasons: if they cause painful side effects that cause more damage than the original disease, if they have long-term consequences that undermine the initial boost they provide in a patient's health, or if they do not actually cure a disease and only offer false hope which causes the patient not to choose a different method of treatment. The FDA regulatory framework is an extremely complex and intricate process that has been refined to keep potentially harmful drugs away from the public. We must ask ourselves whether an individual patient or small group of patients' immediate needs is justification to bypass the FDA framework that is designed to protect the public. Which actually serves the greater good? .
             If we view experimental drugs as an industry and the patients as the customers, the very nature of the customers is that they are looking for anything to give them hope. Customers in this industry are faced with unbearably harsh circumstances and often have few options to respond. By deregulating the process of drug approval, we would be able to give a segment of the customers, very ill patients, another chance while risking the consequences if an under-tested drug causes harm to a large number of patients.

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