Let’s pretend there’s a drug that helps minimize effects of lung cancer in people close to death. Call it Inqui. (“Inn-kwee.” Derived from the Latin word for “unfair.”)
Inqui has been around for a few years. Researchers and docs familiar with the drug know it also works well as a preventative for lung cancer if taken daily.
Yet, that knowledge has not resulted in widespread use of Inqui as a prophylactic. Here are a few of the reasons:
–Testing drugs on well people is tricky.
–Anti-American protesters don’t want it tested on poor people in other countries.
–The drug company making it would rather not give it to un-sick people, because live people tend to sue when things go wrong, whereas dead people do not.
And, perhaps most significantly, because politically active healthy nonsmokers are violently opposed to giving the drug to people who smoked. Those people knew the risks and did not seek help to quit using nicotine or breathing second-hand smoke, so screw them.
This would be outrageous. Right?
Yet this is pretty much the case with Truvada, a drug prescribed to people infected with HIV, as described in “An AIDS Advance, Hiding in the Open,” by Donald G. McNeil Jr. in The New York Times.
As he put it:
“The delay [in selling Truvada for prevention] turns out to be a combination of scientific caution and the fiery politics of AIDS. While a medical advance can be made by a momentary flash of inspiration or luck — as legendarily happened with penicillin — proving that it works can take forever. And that is particularly true with AIDS, a disease surrounded by visceral fears, longstanding prejudices and the potential for huge profits.”
Good thing lung cancer affects straight people, otherwise “Inqui” as preventative wouldn’t have seen the light of day either.