City with trash in foreground and smokestacks producing smog in background.

The Privatization of Cancer

By Daniel G. Aaron

Cancer is fearsome, unstoppable even. So the story goes. Yes, you can secure some extra time with loved ones, and — if you are lucky —  maybe your cancer is susceptible to drugs or surgery. But for most people, cancer sounds like a death sentence. The proper response is to throw drugs and radiation at it.

Cancer seems so unstoppable that many have started rifling through their cosmetic products and foods to eliminate all possible carcinogens. Despite the fact we have regulatory regimes to ensure our food, makeup, the air, and drinking water are free of carcinogens, people don’t trust them. There is an intuitive sense that products are not well regulated, leaving individuals to moderate their own cancer risk. In fact, the majority of Americans do not hold strong trust in our health agencies like FDA and CDC.

In my forthcoming article, I argue that our cancer regulatory regimes inadequately protect the public. I believe deregulation is one form of the “privatization of cancer.”

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Pile of colorful pills in blister packs

Expanding The Right to Try Unproven Treatments: A Dangerous, Deregulatory Proposal

By Richard Klein, Kenneth I. Moch, and Arthur L. Caplan

A new proposal out of the Goldwater Institute (GI), a libertarian think tank, advances an oversimplified critique of the U.S. regulatory process for approving medicines for COVID-19 and other diseases, with the ultimate goal of weakening the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

You may remember the Goldwater Institute as the architect of the initial state “Right to Try” (RtT) legislation from a few years ago. The idea, marketed as increasing access to experimental medicines, was actually calculated to circumvent FDA oversight so that individuals could try still-unproven experimental medicines without what Goldwater viewed as pointless bureaucratic paternalism. RtT legislation was adopted by 41 states and ultimately by the U.S. Congress.

When former President Trump signed the Right to Try bill into federal law with great fanfare on May 20, 2018, he stated that “countless American lives will ultimately be saved.” Three years later, the promise proved to be meaningless, as evidenced by the difficulty in identifying more than a handful of individuals who have even pursued the RtT pathway, much less finding data to show that it has saved lives.

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