MS Trials in Saskatchewan

I have to give Brad Wall credit in this case. He’s right to start looking more closely at a possible treatment for MS that is better than the current drugs. Angioplasty is a well known treatment for blockages, and should be offered if patients and doctors are willing to undergo studies on its new implementation.

One case the CBC followed, has so far been a success story. That it apparently works, even for a short time, is sign for hope. The drugs used for treating MS are not a cure, and could be the entirely wrong way to go about treating the disease. Ulcers were treated incorrectly for a long time too, until a smart doctor realized the actual cause of most stomach ulcers. Pharmaceutical companies don’t exactly have an incentive to find a cure, when they can stay rich by treating symptoms instead.

If only Wall would recognize the importance of minimizing pain and debilitation in the rest of the population too!

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14 responses to “MS Trials in Saskatchewan

  1. I like this. I’ve thought hyperbaric chambers could probably be used to treat a few things. One challenge is trial participants would have to waive the right to sue if they are harmed by the attempted treatment. Over the long-term, as long as there is no $$ conflict-of-interest, some quicker trials appear moral. I think medical instruments are more red-taped than are new drugs. At the extreme end of things you’d want expedited vaccine trials. Marijuana is great for nausea and terminal illness palliative care. The synchrtron might be useful to find just how poisoned the world’s 3rd largest aquifer is, like Canadian researchers used it to find out about India’s poisoned water; a surrogate for shredded reports. Maybe stealth jets will make diseases disappear?

  2. Your assertion that pharmaceutical companies don’t have an incentive to find a cure for MS was so stupid I got dumber from reading it.

    Your homework is to figure out at least three ways this statement is stupid, including at least one where your statement is absolutely true but still stupid. It’s not a test you can’t pass; It took me about three minutes.

  3. History is on my side Ryan, unfortunately. How many diseases have been cured by pharmaceutical companies in the last 100 years? If you count their purchase or use of vaccines, you could perhaps count a few successes other than smallpox. Given their budget spent on promotion, it’s entirely fair to say that they’d make less money if some of their treatment drugs stopped selling because they were replaced by a cure drug that is only used for one short course. Generally companies balk at making choices that cost them that much money, even if ethics dictate that they choose humanity. There are millions of people in the Gulf of Mexico who will confirm that statement for you too.

    What do you feel is a company’s driving incentive? Humanity? You can’t be that naive.

  4. I don’t see why if the FDA has trials similiar to EU or Health Tar Canada; why not just a quicker approval process rather than replicate trials?
    Ryan, there might not be a chemical cure for MS (or there might be). In any event our federal tax rates and structured to find a cure for a disease that disproportionately affects SK. Our P.Martin/Flaherty corporate tax cuts don’t help Kane, and their biofilm dissolution product that would lower gov health costs, it doesn’t help hospitals procure gelFAST or even help publicly funded hospitals pay for trials; be buying from a China generic competitor down the road. If you take Flaherty’s tax cuts that are 70% finance and oil (great industrial policy), and instead give them as grants to medical startups and med-streamline thinktanks, the boomers in Canada wind up paying for their own AGW annihilation of civilization. At the very least directing the tax-breaks from AB nihilists to staph-infection companies winds up saving the world hundreds of billions a year on staph infections in a few decades.

    Two moral hazards. Cures aren’t profitable, that includes staph infections. Pointless procedures are. There is a back procedure that has been found to be pointless, and part of the USA’s bloated health costs are pointless diagnostic tests (physicians give everyone in USA MRIs to pay rent). So to stop the slippery slope, you look at it case-by-case and it doesn’t look like any obvious villians here.
    Other moral hazard is desparate patients will believe any snakeoil salesman. This happens all the time in 3rd world. So, despite our small-g gov base, vulnerable people can’t be trusted to make this assertion. But again, case-by-case, there is the possibility of more than placebo with this treatment (depends on case studies)…just gotta waive the right to sue. I googled a Cato paper about streamlining FDA for medical equipment that suggests one free market alternative, but it disregards other proposed changes because they aren’t free market, without mentioning what they were….too bad didn’t spend a sentence on each alternative.

  5. I’m wrong about devices being more redtaped than drugs according to the middle of: http://www.wd.gc.ca/eng/8211.asp
    Was confusing economies of scale. It is too bad AB sold their souls polluting freshwater; have a natural comparative boomer-friendly medical advantage. Maybe ask an oil worker or banker to treat your MS, that’s who SK elected federally. In Canada under CPC, you get a degree as a geologist or in finance, you don’t learn a new way to plate medical instruments biocompatibly.

    The neocon small-g way has difference implication for every country, but generally favours USA post-WWII oil and defense sectors (is how we won the war). Here, favours oil and finance. In Japan, maybe electronics. In UK, biotech and defence. In Denmark: Vestas!!
    Simply, the CPC way is to go back to the NHL pre entry draft with tar sands being the Canadiens. Back then all Que born players went to Habs and Ontarians were split up among 5 other teams; how Habs won their cups. Unfortunately the externality of excess CO2 is the end of civilization. The NHL’s entry draft is like bigger G and tax rates with social net and investments in human capital (once used to build AB and sands). The former small g leads to quality-of-living decreases empirically, as the “winners” lock up and dumb down the “losers”.
    During WWII, oil and defense were the way to go. Now, we are becoming the enemy. Osama’s January video said AGW is real. We have companies that don’t drown Bangladesh, medical device makers are one of them. You don’t go small g until your multinationals promote quality-of-living. Ours don’t; quite the opposite.

  6. Answers:

    1) There is more than one pharmaceutical company, and very few pharmas have active, under-patent MS treatments. So the market incentives for all the pharmaceutical companies not yet in the MS market to find a cure (if there is one to be found) are quite strong.

    2) Pharmaceutical companies, as you point out, don’t work on the only treatment routes. Indeed, surgical techniques are developed by a largely orthogonal process, and it’s more or less literally not the business of pharmas to work on such techniques. Biochemists make bad engineers, for the most part. (this answer satisfies the “absolutely true” stipulation)

    3) Drug patents last about 20 years. Given how much of that time is taken up with the testing and approval process for even the most obviously successful drugs, any pharma with an MS treatment would have an incentive to work on follow-up drugs almost immediately.

    4) BONUS! A successful short-treatment cure for MS is actually quite easy to monetize: it just has to be priced at less than the lifetime drug maintenance option, and it’s cost effective for the health care payer and probably still more profitable than a long-term palliative for the manufacturer. Better, the cure-maker would capture much more of the medium term business in-patent, since every patient IN THE WORLD would switch over to the cure-drug right away, and take the (appropriately priced but low-dose-count) “lifetime supply” in a very short period of time. In other words: cure=100% market share where the market size is every living MS patient.

    I don’t even know what to make at your attempt to respond to my quiz. Are you accusing pharmaceutical companies of, I don’t know, not making antibiotics? Of not making vaccines for a remarkable number of diseases? Of not breaking the laws of biochemistry?

    As best as I can charitably make out, you’re saying the halting progress on pharmaceutical cures for all of humanity’s ailments is evidence of bad faith on the part of pharmaceutical companies researching cures.

    Really? Because that’s just ridiculously paranoic bad faith on your part, and please see the four perfectly profit-motivated reasons for cure-seeking I gave above.

    Further, in the last hundred years, antibiotics alone have cured almost every bacterially-infectious disease. If anything, that and decent influenza vaccinations and quarantine processes have reduced almost all the major historic killer diseases to sideshows and footnotes. Those successes are of such a massive scale, historically speaking, that you are being obtuse when you fail to recognize how many diseases (and such important diseases) have been cured.

    I really don’t know what else to say. If your post left me disappointed, your follow-up left me flabbergasted. The crossover of economics, history and medicine appear to have left us at a local maximum of Saskboy ignorance.

  7. Ryan, you’re not looking at the big picture, also known as “long term”. While some of your points are somewhat valid in certain perspectives, they do not all have the benefit of staying, or always being true. You’re being obtuse in a different way if you think antibiotics have cured many diseases. Antibiotics have “cured” exactly 0 bacterial infections in the human species. They can cure individuals, but you really can’t say they are no longer a threat when they’ve not been eradicated. Whose fault is that? It’s partly the fault of drug companies, but more-so governments who should realize the critical danger infections pose to civilization as we’ve come to love it.

    I happen to be reading a book (sitting in front of me right now) about the only infectious disease to be successfully eliminated. Claiming I’m “ignorant” of economics, history, and medicine, is simply frustration showing through on your part. I’m offering suggested alternative interpretations of mainstream theory and accepted mythology.

    If a surgical technique is developed to treat a disease previously treated with snake oil, the snake oil salesman gets $0 when the cure is switched to by the afflicted.

    Your position is that drug companies do their absolute best to cure diseases, above treatment. Who then do you blame for a lack of implementation of the drug companies’ “cures”? Aside from vaccinations, and antibiotics they’ve created, their drugs are bandaids not cures. There’s nothing very wrong with that, unless they’ve slowed the rate of progress towards more cures on purpose or as a side effect of their business and research structures.

  8. Saskboy, I blame the present state of human knowledge about biochemistry for the “lack” of “cures.” Your argument that Big Pharma is holding out on cures is logically equivalent to claiming that Big Bio is holding out on giving us cloned unicorns. Just because you can imagine something doesn’t mean it’s even close to feasible with present technology.

    Your scare quotes around “cure” above are accompanied by an attempt to redefine what “cure” means to most people. To wit: antibiotics cure bacterial infections, they do not render them extinct. Vaccination exterminated smallpox, but you seem to consider “exterminate” a synonym for “cure”. Your terminology here is shifty and you’re playing Humpty Dumpty with word definitions.

    Pharmaceutical companies are entities, that mostly explore pharmaceutical remedies for medical ailments, with the aim of finding effective stuff they can sell. This isn’t the whole business model (generic pharmaceutical makers, for example, focus on manufacturing out-of-patent drugs, not exploring new, patentable drugs). They take what they can get, cure-and-therapy wise. To imply that all pharmaceutical companies would pass up searching for improvements on present drugs because one or two companies already have drugs on the market is bone-headedly stupid. It defies economic sense, along with several other values and principles.

    Worse, you’re making an irrational and speculative economic argument that you can’t back up with a shred of medical evidence. What is the correct number of cures that should have been discovered by now? Or are you holding out? Have you got some special insight about a path of exploration in moving from therapy to curative for some disease in mind? Because if you do, call me. I’ll promise to pass it on to friends of friends in the UBC Therapeutics Initiative so those mean Big Pharma companies stop keeping it for themselves.

    I guess you’re proposing a War on Bacterial Infection in that first paragraph of your latest comment, but that’s essentially the stupidest thing you’ve said in this entire thread: the quest for new antibiotic drugs and antibacterial therapies is one of the most aggressively pursued projects in both public and private medical research. Not all of these efforts are pharmaceutically oriented (though when talking about things like phage therapy one is in a bit of a gray area where these treatments start to fall outside of conventional biochemistry, and then fall back in when you start using engineered phages as carriers to push in antibiotics), but this is already a field of intense attention.

    So your point is…you want more cures? It’s all capitalism’s fault? Do you even have an argument? I think I’ve said enough on this topic.

  9. I have several arguments, and you’re apparently intentionally misunderstanding most of them.

    Yes, I want more cures. Yes I want a War on Disease instead of a War on drugs, Iraq, etc. Humans getting along well enough to fight common (cold) enemies is an inspiring idea, don’t you think?

    It’s possibly capitalism’s fault that there aren’t more. Bill Gates is actively working to use drugs the way they should have been by governments in the last century, which is to eradicate as many communicable diseases as possible, instead of losing a war of resistance until antibiotics are nearly useless.

  10. A news article mentions India overuses and abuses antibiotics like we used to decades ago. A solution being better hospital data. Be a good use of foreign aid or linked with trade. I guess medical best practises require money and training…

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