Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Government against Healthcare

With all the talk of the government's attempt at taking over healthcare it is important to consider some of the history of how government actually increases healthcare costs.

For a number of years Colchicine has been used to treat gout flares up. A painful Uric Acid accumulation in the joints. Often the condition is caused by the overuse of doctors prescribing diuretics, at least that is what I have personally seen in various people I have known.

In 2008 the cost of a Colchicine pill was about 9 cents. Then the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) got involved. In 2009 the FDA granted Colchicine approval for the treatment of gout. As Wikipedia says: “In 2009, the FDA approved colchicine for gout flares, awarding Colcrys a three-year term of market exclusivity”. The FDA granted the exclusivity on a drug that predated the FDA. This is much different from other instances where a pharmaceutical company researches and develops a drug which they then hold the patent to for a number of years. In this case the drug was made by various companies and was for all intents and purposes a generic drug. Now, one has to wonder under what Constitutional authority the FDA has the right to restrict and grant exclusivity for a drugs of long use. It is not a safety issue or a purity issue which are under the FDA's mandate.

We all have to wonder about what kind of lobbying went on between URL Pharma and the officials at the FDA. But we have to remember that is how much of our government works now. For instance the Obama Healthcare Bill was not from President Obama. He declared all kinds of things about his plan but he never had a plan. It was not even from the Congress and Senators who claimed they were working on the healthcare bill. It was substantially put together by staffers and lobbyists. As America's Watchtower writes:

Much has been made about the politicians who voted in favor of the healthcare reform legislation without actually knowing what was in it because they didn’t even bother to read what they were voting on, but this takes the cake. Max Baucus is credited with writing the unpopular legislation but at a recent public meeting–when confronted with the question of whether or not he read the healthcare bill–Max Baucus admitted that he had not read the healthcare reform bill before voting on it.
When lobbists and money grubbing people get together the consumer is last on their list of concerns. Colcrys the Colchincine drug rose in price from 9 cents per pill to about 5 dollars per pill. Because the FDA acting as king maker gave the rights to a company and took rights away from manufacturer's. True the company did some research on dosages. Nothing that any University could not easily do for not too much money. It might be within the FDA position to issue a grant for such study but not really to hand out the right of creating the drug to one pharmaceutical company.

The New England Journal of Medicine wrote an article on this atrocity and the good folks at URL Pharma wrote a reply which is almost laughable. One of the things they write is the following:

NEJM: “After the FDA approved Colcrys, the manufacturer brought a lawsuit seeking to remove any other versions of colchicine from the market and raised the price by a factor of more than 50, from $0.09 per pill to $4.85 per pill.4 These increased prices directly affect the availability of the drug to patients with gout or FMF who have long been using colchicine safely in an evidence-based manner.”

URL Pharma Response: This statement is untrue. Our Patient Assistance Program protects virtually every patient and is one of the most generous programs ever offered by the pharmaceutical industry. It is only individuals with income greater than 600% of the Federal Poverty Level, who decide to not purchase health insurance, that are not covered for their Colcrys purchases. Also, it is false and misleading to state that we “raised the price” as there was no price for an approved colchicine product prior to Colcrys. The price of a safe, legal, FDA-approved drug, backed by research, discovery, and the financial risks and intellectual commitment to achieve such advancements, cannot be compared to that of an illegal, unapproved product. As shown above, anecdotal information cannot be relied upon as medical evidence, and doing so endangers patients. Additionally, 169 deaths, millions of cases of diarrhea, and other unnecessary toxic reactions do not constitute “using colchicine safely in an evidence-based manner.”
Of course if you check into the assistance program there are many hoops to jump through and it only works if your doctor and the pharmacist know how to do things to please the program. The pharmaceutical company is trying to appear generous with their windfall from the Federal government.

There are probably numerous such examples. I know of some things that would be changed to work more efficiently with some medically related equipment but any change in the equipment even if they had nothing at all to do with the care the patient got would have to run the whole device through the long FDA approval process again. Bureaucracies move slowly and seek to maintain their bureaucracy. If you think it will streamline or cut medical costs you are only kidding yourself. Sadly this is your government at work, not helping the consumer but the pharmaceutical company.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Faith is Accepting the Grace of God

Most people when they think of faith think of a belief in something or someone. Something that is not fully happened yet so it can't be claimed to be a reality yet it is something that is expected to occur. We have faith that the building we are in will not simply collapse on us. Just as that faith in the building is either based upon our visual perceptions or our confidence in the builders and the inspectors and the host of people involved in creating a building, faith is never based upon just beliefs it should always be based upon evidence.

This frustrates many traditional type Christians. I was led to the following quote of Ravi Zacharias from a comment on Spectrum, (an open letter to Educate Truth). The commenter said of tand article by someone who used the Ravi Zacharias quote; “He mocks the "blind faith" of Christians, relying on the writings of Ravi Zacharias, a critic of the Bible.” Here is some of what Zacharias wrote:

If a pastor says, “All we need is the Bible,” what does he say to a man who says, “All I need is the Quran”? It is a solipsistic method of arguing.
The pastor is saying, “All I need is my own point of reference and nothing more than that.” Even the gospel was verified by external references. The Bible is a book of history, a book of geography, not just a book of spiritual assertions.
The fact is the resurrection from the dead was the ultimate proof that in history — and in empirically verifiable means — the Word of God was made certain. Otherwise, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration would have been good enough. But the apostle Peter says in 2 Peter 1:19: “We have the Word of the prophets made more certain … as to a light shining in a dark place.” He testified to the authority and person of Christ, and the resurrected person of Christ.
To believe, “All we need is the Bible and nothing more,” is what the monks believed in medieval times, and they resorted to monasteries. We all know the end of that story. This argument may be good enough for those who are convinced the Bible is authority. The Bible, however, is not authoritative in culture or in a world of counter-perspectives. To say that it is authoritative in these situations is to deny both how the Bible defends itself and how our young people need to defend the Bible’s sufficiency.
There is little point in giving quotes from the blind faith side of things because they have nothing to stand upon aside from their tradition. Tradition may be good, bad or indifferent but if it is not inquired about it has tremendous potential for harm. A few examples of harmful traditions would include these:
...”[F]female circumcision/genital mutilation, facial scarring, the force-feeding of women, early or forced marriage, nutritional taboos, traditional practices associated with childbirth, dowry-related crimes, honor crimes, and the consequences of son preference...”
Faith is not based upon tradition, it is not a product of blind choice and it is not merely the assumptions that what you hope for will happen or what you can't see is there. When the Bible says: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1it is an expression of the results of faith not the reason for the faith. As the Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary says:
Instead, he treats faith with reference to the future. It is that trust in God that enables believers to press on steadfastly whatever the future holds for them. They know that they can rely on God. So the writer's method is to select some of the great people in the history of God's people and to show briefly how faith motivated all of them and led them forward, no matter how difficult the circumstances.”
Faith was based upon their understanding of God, their experience with God, tradition may have been involved but it is only one part of the overall experience and knowledge, information and reality that creates the understanding of God as someone who can be trusted, someone who is a friend and not an enemy.

Few of us would be so foolish as to say we believe in anything by blind faith. Religion seems to be the one clear exception...well perhaps certain conspiracy theories as well. But generally it is not seen as a reasonable position to base anything on blind faith. What happens in traditional Christianity however is that traditional understanding and practices of Biblical interpretation become the excuse to accept blind faith. If someone uses different techniques to interpret the Bible so that it does not conflict with scientific reality, the traditionalist scoffs at the more reasoned explanation.

But the traditionalist does not want to admit that his faith is in a particular form of Bible interpretation technique, so instead they will say that they are simply following the Bible, or the plain reading of the Bible. Thus if you disagree or have a different interpretation you are going against the Bible in their view. If reason, history, science or any other form of reality disagrees with their interpretation they assert their fidelity to the Bible by which they mean their traditional interpretation of the Biblical texts.

Faith is not found in methods of Bible interpretation, it is not found in tradition, it is based upon the reality of the historical person of Jesus Christ as the incarnation of God. A revelation of the love and acceptance of even His enemies and His power over death and His promises of reconciliation. Faith is built on evidence and it is only faith in God, not interpretations, because we can and historically have been wrong in interpretations. But faith is about who God is, Faith is the acceptance of the gracious character of our God. Other things may fail us but if our God is love, the love revealed by Christ then we have good reasons for belief in better things to come.