Major Moral Dilemma: It Started with Viagra

Jun 2008
530
Major Moral Dilemma: It Started with Viagra

It is obvious even to the most casual observer (no Critical Thinking required) that we must quickly deal with the problem that medical technology has left on our door step. As a result of the success of medical technology we can prolong life ever more, every day, than the day before. I claim that this constantly extending the prolongation of life must quickly cease; we can no longer afford such a foolish unreflective behavior.

Bruce Hardy, a British citizen and cancer victim, was refused the funds, by British health officials, for a drug that could likely prolong his life for 6 more months. The drug treatment cost was estimated to be $54,000. His distraught wife said “Everybody should be allowed to have as much life as they can”.

“British authorities, after a storm of protest, are reconsidering their decision on the cancer drug and others.”

The introduction of the drug Viagra, by Pfizer, in 1998, panicked British health officials. They figured it might bankrupt the government’s health budget and thus placed restrictions on its use. Pfizer sued and the British government instituted a standard program, with the acronym NICE, for rationing health drugs.

“Before NICE, hospitals and clinics often came to different decisions about which drugs to buy, creating geographic disparities in care that led to outrage.”

“British Balance Benefit vs. Cost of Latest Drugs” New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/03/health/03nice.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1&hp

I have stated many times before that I was convinced that we have created a technology that is too powerful for our intellectually unsophisticated citizens to deal with. It seems to me that this particular dilemma does not require a great deal of sophistication to understand. This might be a perfect place to begin a nationwide (USA) Internet discourse directed at getting our intellectual arms around this problem and helping our government officials in an attempt to resolve this terrible dilemma.

Incidentally I am 74 years old, which I think qualifies me to push this matter without appearing to be a hypocrite.
 

avon

Forum Staff
May 2008
14,253
Having a 'right to life' does not mean you have the right to expect everything necessary to sustain that life!!
 
Jul 2008
1,211
NE PA
I read soemthing in Time while on the can, and I can't remember exactly how it went-something like the overall percentage of people who live past 80 hasn't changed all that much compared to earlier in the 20th. Can anyone clarify this?
 
Jun 2008
530
The obvious problem that comes to mind is how much of a nation’s health care budget can be allocated to the elderly to extend their life an additional 6 months. In 2003 the elderly accounted for one-third of all hospitalizations even though they represent 12% of the population. This cost was 43.6% of the nation’s health care expenditure.

Another important consideration is how can we limit the population to a reasonable level when we continue to extend longevity?
 

avon

Forum Staff
May 2008
14,253
The obvious problem that comes to mind is how much of a nation’s health care budget can be allocated to the elderly to extend their life an additional 6 months. In 2003 the elderly accounted for one-third of all hospitalizations even though they represent 12% of the population. This cost was 43.6% of the nation’s health care expenditure.
Perhaps, BUT, have not the elderly (potentially) contributed more to the 'wealth' of the nation throughout their lives. For instance, an octagenarian might conceivably have fought in wars, raised children and grandchildren (and even great-grandchildren), paid taxes, and generally helped shape American national character. Perhaps then, they realistically deserve to be allowed the expectation of a very significant measure of care. I fully understand that expensive drugs for only a short prolongation of life might be an unsatisfactory measure, but, at the same time, each case MUST be gauged on its own merits.

btw - my own job frequently entails spending significant amounts of money in order to provide even a very small degree of physical comfort or respite for people at the very end of their travels. Spending $3000 so that someone can have a comfortable chair might appear riddiculous, but I think its a service we might all hope would be provided to us should we ever be in a similar position. Our care of the elderly deeply reflects who we are ourselves.
 
Sep 2008
274
in a place
Some people deserve to live but most don't

sorry if this is too general

and I believe that if it's useful it should be done an maybe stop wasting health care on the "healthy"
 
Nov 2008
639
Melbourne, Australia
Some people deserve to live but most don't
What do you mean?

Does Government have the right to decide who is worthy of longevity and who does not.
Having possession of medical care capable of prolonging human life and refusing to administer it seems rather sinister to me.
 
Sep 2008
274
in a place
What do you mean?

Does Government have the right to decide who is worthy of longevity and who does not.
Having possession of medical care capable of prolonging human life and refusing to administer it seems rather sinister to me.
No nobody has the right to decide who has the right to live and who has to die and yes it is sinister but it is what it is
 

avon

Forum Staff
May 2008
14,253
What do you mean?

Does Government have the right to decide who is worthy of longevity and who does not.
Having possession of medical care capable of prolonging human life and refusing to administer it seems rather sinister to me.
Agreed. If the capability exists (which it does to an extent), then the whole population should have a right to access it.