Saturday, March 17, 2007

Guinea Pigs

ABC News has a story today whose teaser reads "Should we experiment on kids?"

Of course the story reports a storm of criticism. It is not just the suggestion of such experimentation that is "showboating", but the sensationalism of "experimenting" on children.

Let's face it -- either children try things under experimental conditions, or they are the victims of uncontrolled experiments once a drug or technique reaches the marketplace. Any drug that has a limited test population is a time bomb for other groups once it reaches the general population. Remember thalidomide? Pregnant women are usually kept far away from being part of an experimental population, and so there was no hint that Thalidomide would cause widespread, consistent fetal damage. Some painkillers work better on men than on women. Drugs behave in ways that a limited test population fails to reveal.

So either there will be experiments that include children, or there will be later disasters that include children. The ethics of this choice are a bit more complicated than the debaters suggest.

1 comment:

Bryan said...

The same goes for everyone except young, white males. Young, white males are the sample for almost all drug testing, so when women, children, or senior citizens are prescribed drugs it is a crap shoot.

I'm not surprised that one of the leading causes of hospital "mistakes" are related to the pharmacy.