Shortage of Cancer Drugs, Plenty of Viagra

Viagra / Wikimedia commons
Viagra / Wikimedia commons

Viagra to treat men’s erectile dysfunction was approved in 1998, followed by more than two dozen drugs to treat men’s sexuality, or lack of it.

Last August, the FDA approved Viagra for women, even though a mere “8.3% of women between ages of 30 and 70 suffer distress from a lack of sexual desire,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Those figures don’t rise to the status of “problem” in my opinion.

What is problematic, however, is today’s report in the New York Times of a shortage of life saving cancer drugs, Drug Shortages Forcing Hard Decisions on Rationing Treatments.

Researchers estimate that about 8.3% of women between 30 and 70 in the United States suffer distress from lack of sexual desire. The condition, only recently deemed a medical disorder, appears to peak between the ages of 40 and 60.

An international group of pediatric cancer specialists was so troubled about the profession’s unsystematic approach to distributing scarce medicine that it developed rationing guidelines that are being released Friday in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“It was painful,” said Dr. Yoram Unguru, an oncologist at the Children’s Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore and a faculty member at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. “We kept coming back to wow, we’ve got that tragic choice: two kids in front of you, you only have enough for one. How do you choose?

As I’ve become fond of saying, none of us has time for my rant. Nevertheless, here we are:

medicine, perhaps especially medicine, is driven not by what we need or does the most good but what produces the highest return.

Ah………. capitalism. It rarely fails to disappoint.

When I broke my arm a couple of years ago, I was appalled at Northwestern Hospital’s luxurious settings. So much for just a lil’ ol’ nonprofit. I just wanted my arm treated so I could get on with my life. Save the fountain and the concierge for those who think that pampering and luxury is synonymous with care.

In the meantime, load up on Viagra because there is plenty of it.

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