First, They Came for the Stem-Cell Researchers...

...and they eventually worked their way up to IVF practitioners.

Glad-handing frequent flier House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), notes the Wash Post, has called embryonic stem cell research "the dismemberment of living, distinct humans beings."

Writes the Post:

It's hard...to be dismembered if one has no limbs--being merely a cluster of a couple of hundred non-differentiated cells. These 5-day-old embryos get created all the time in fertility clinics to help people who otherwise could not have children. In a typical in vitro treatment, several more embryos are created than used, and the extras get frozen....A survey of fertility clinics in 2002 indicated that there were about 400,000 frozen embryos across the country. Many of these will never be implanted in a woman and will never become babies. All of this is commonplace and accepted because few people regard a group of cells that small as the moral equivalent of a human being. Yet, by Mr. DeLay's standards, each and every one of these embryos is a potential murder victim.

If Mr. DeLay really believes this, in vitro fertilization as practiced is legalized torture and murder on a mass scale. If a 5-day-old embryo is "a person," then putting it in a freezer--let alone allowing it to expire in a petri dish or throwing it out--should be no more acceptable for the goal of producing babies for the infertile than it is for discovering therapies that could help dying people. Nor should the issue be just federal funding but the legality of the practice itself. Mr. DeLay said yesterday in a news conference that he wanted to "look at" the issue of discarded embryos...But he stopped short of supporting any federal regulation, let alone the sort of draconian restrictions it would take to stop what he evidently sees as a slaughter of innocents. This makes no sense. A society that accepts the routine destruction of embryos cannot treat as "dismemberment" the one means of destroying those embryos that might produce great breakthroughs in science and health.

Whole thing here.

For the most part, I think the debate over embryonic stem cell research--especially in the political arena--is less about first principles and more about lining up in the culture wars. Both the Dems and Reps, liberals and conservatives, could plausibly be on either side, depending on how the issues are framed (calling Nancy Reagan). What we're seeing mostly is a quick choosing of sides based more of defining yourself against your opponent than anything else (hence, DeLay's philosophical confusion).

Let me add one more weakly developed notion: When it comes to these sorts of breakthroughs (IVF, stem cells), we're first and foremost pragmatists. If these technologies pan out and offer great advances to the living, even hard-core pro-lifers will cook up after-the-fact rationalizations for why they are just no matter what. That's one reason why Bush's biomedical czar, Leon Kass, doesn't talk about IVF anymore, even though he opposed it when it first became viable.

Indeed, you even get a whiff of this pragmatism in the abortion debate, where the issue is (at least for the sake of argument) much clearer: Very few pro-lifers, and certainly no major political figures, argue for putting doctors who peform abortions or women who have them on trial for murder. Even among strident pro-lifers, that's considered a nut job position, even if it is perfectly consistent with the view that abortion is a form of homicide. On the flip side, pro-choicers imply there's something skeevy about abortion when they insist it should be legal, safe, and rare--why "rare" if it is simply a routine medical procedure?

My point is that we quickly learn to live with biomedical technologies that give us what we want, even if we as a society (and yes, kemo sabe, I realize that "who's we?" is an important question) are not fully certain that they are "moral."

A while back, Reason's resident mad science correspondent, the award-winning Ronald Bailey, asked "Are Stem Cells Babies?" His answer: Only if every other human cell is, too.

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  • ed||

    "...each and every one of these embryos is a potential murder victim."

    If so, then each is also a potential murderer. I say put 'em all on death row, just to be safe.
    But first we'll have to find a manufacturer of tiny little nooses...

  • ||

    Bush will veto expanding stem cell research, so there's really no point in getting our hopes up. But at least we can be happy that a majority of people in the House and maybe in the Senate (Orrin Hatch, an icon of the pro-life movement, supports expansion) support it; this might mean individual states will be persuaded to back expansion, as California did late last year.

  • ||

    ed: I like your thinking. God will sort em out.

  • ||

    "If these technologies pan out and offer great advances to the living, even hard-core pro-lifers will cook up after-the-fact rationalizations for why they are just no matter what."

    Since when is a little thing like scientific fact going to convince the religious of stupidity of their ways? Just look at the mess over evolution in Kansas. We have nearly two centuries of data (biological, geological, paleontological, archeological astronomical, etc.) that proves Darwin right, and yet we still have a very large, very vocal, and very well-funded bunch of faithful who deny it in favor of an ancient Canaanite campfire story.

    Try to use science to convince a Jehovah�s Witness that there's nothing wrong with blood transfusions. It's like trying to teach a pig to sing.

  • ranger||

    I think the Stem Cell issue, perhaps especially in light of a veto, could be another strong case for federalism. I believe this even more so after Tuesday's H&R debate.

    Let W throw that veto switch. Who knows, maybe he'll like it and be more inclined in the future. Perhaps an even better result, some other states will follow California's lead (*shudder*, there's something I NEVER thought I'd say!) and come up with their own rules.

    Between Schiavo and this debate, the medical sector just might be the catalyst to start resurrecting much of our lost federalism.

  • ||

    "why "rare" if it is simply a routine medical procedure?"

    Treatment of diabetes is also a routine medical procedure, but we would (if we could) make it more rare by eliminating or greatly reducing incidence of the disease. Same goes for most other routine medical procedures.

    Preventing unwanted pregnancies is better than abortion. Likewise, preventing disease is better than trying to cure it later.

  • Mike||

    Since when is a little thing like scientific fact going to convince the religious of stupidity of their ways? Just look at the mess over evolution in Kansas.

    And if people realized that much of modern genetics owes its existence to evolutionary biology, they might be slower to boot it from their schools.

    The point seems to be, people have no problem banning things they feel don't affect them. But as soon as a procedure becomes personally useful, they silently change their position.

  • ranger||

    but we would (if we could) make it more rare by eliminating or greatly reducing incidence of the disease.

    Not to beat the "no federal money" dead horse, but one or two more lashes won't hurt... =)

    Is it just me, or is it not in the best interest of the scientific community to solve/cure certain things? Wouldn't that succcess lead to a lack of funding? whereas the promise of success leads to continued funding? "Oh, you fixed that? Okay, then we don't need to fund that research any more."

    Assuming that's the case, it could be surmised that the medical community PREFERS routine procedures to cures or prevention.

  • ||

    ranger -

    the economics you describe are real - at least when you're talking about Big Pharma (of course, as created by the FDA). Cures are money losers. You have to sink the same amount of funds in research, validation, clinical trials, etc. for cures as you do for 'treatments' (drugs that treat a symptom, but don't 'cure' the underlying problem). However, cures make far less money - you take them only briefly, and then you don't need them.

    The big money is in heart meds, ulcer meds, and ED meds. Things that you will continue to take for years - in most cases, for the rest of your life.

    Cures are quite often placed in a category known as "orphan drugs" that require government subsidization to be made, proving that one government intervention (the FDA) always leads to the call for more intervention (subsidization of less profitable cures).

  • Mike||

    Cures are quite often placed in a category known as "orphan drugs" that require government subsidization to be made, proving that one government intervention (the FDA) always leads to the call for more intervention (subsidization of less profitable cures).

    Why would companies be any more motivated to cure rather than treat diseases without the FDA? If the profit motive you're arguing exists, wouldn't it still exist without the FDA?

  • ||

    "Why would companies be any more motivated to cure rather than treat diseases without the FDA? If the profit motive you're arguing exists, wouldn't it still exist without the FDA?"

    The profit motive would still exist, and surely treatments would still receive the bulk of funding. But, importantly, cures could shortcut many of the inefficient, ridiculously high hurdles that the FDA places in the path of ALL new drugs. Most of these hurdles have little, if anything, to do with ensuring safety or efficacy - the main purpose is CYA for bureaucrats. And even the requirements that are related to safety and efficacy have little common sense in them, and don't make any attempt to weigh costs vs benefits.

    So the FDA artificially increases the cost to market for all new drugs, which in turn means that only VERY profitable drugs are likely to be pursued, and ONLY very big pharma companies have the financial wherewithal to sheperd a drug from discovery to market. The fact that only big companies can be involved only doubles the incentive to focus only on big payoffs - such big companies require big profits to keep going.

  • ranger||

    Why would companies be any more motivated to cure rather than treat diseases without the FDA? If the profit motive you're arguing exists, wouldn't it still exist without the FDA?

    I think, given the trememndous cost of jumping through FDA hurdles, much of the profit gets sucked up in meeting the (vague, IMHO) government standards. So in order to recoup research costs, it's in the best interest of a company to have a short-term product with a high rate of return from customers. Selling something that masques the symptoms but doesn't cure the disease (acid reflux comes to mind).

    Whereas, minus the governments regulatory hurdles (outside of the obvious "can't harm life or liberty"), companies could potentially invest in new research. Then, a cure wouldn't signal an end to funding. Ideally, they could recoup those cost and focus on NEW problems.

    That is, assuming I comprehended the Quasibill's post and your question correctly.

  • ranger||

    ridiculously high hurdles that the FDA places in the path of ALL new drugs

    Damn, quasibill, get off my brain wave! It's my only one and it barely functions! ;-)

  • ||

    So, if voodoo Christian bullshit rules the day in the US, the research will go on full bore elsewhere in the world, where they don't suffer a pox of these assholes. Sure, the overall pace of such research--and the consequent alleviation of suffering and premature death--would be quickened if the US was more actively engaged, but the Christers fetishize suffering and death, so what's the surprise?

    In the long run, however, despite the best efforts of the flat earth crowd, these types of biotechnologies will triumph because they work. If the crucial breakthroughs occur in Korea or China, well, those nations will prosper through the acquisition of incredibly valuable intellectual property, while the US will be a big net loser.

    Although I hate the Christers, I've come to believe, despite appearances to the contrary, the growth of religious k00kism (at least in the Western world) is kind of a last desperate gasp. We are on the cusp of decades of incredibly transformative technological advances (see Ron Bailey's articles), for which these bullshitters will have no response but "Stop!"--but, alas, the world, and progress, will not stop. Perhaps this is why they cling to "end times" mythology and, in many cases, seem eager to bring about World War 3.

    So, Christers, enjoy your final "Great Awakening"--history is about to bury your sorry asses (for good this time, one can only wish). I can only hope I live long enough to see it.

  • ||

    It is true that drugs that treat symptoms are generally more profitable than drugs that 'cure' disease. However, it is untrue that big pharma doesn't manufacture such drugs. Substitute 'prevent' for 'cure' and you have entered the realm of vaccines, which are still routinely researched, manufactured and sold by big phamra. (Capitalism being what it is, more resources are generally allocated to more profitable drugs than to less profitable drugs, hence fewer companies are producing vaccines today than historically.)

  • ||

    Nice typing. Make that big pharma.

  • ranger||

    You know, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around "big [insert type of company here]" concepts.

    Using the words "big pharma" implies that all pharmaceutical companies have joined together to conspire against the market. That somehow, they've ALL put aside competitive advantages and differences in favor of aligning themselves in a big pharma vs. consumer showdown.

    I don't know if that's entirely accurate. I can see how lobbyists all representing the same special interest would give that appearance. However, I tend to fault the government, which has proven that it can be bought, than the industry. Afterall, what savvy business in his right mind *wouldn't* try to leverage the rules in their favor?? Better to not have some rules than to have them constantly be bent.

    I now return you to your regularly scheduled topic...

  • ||

    We are on the cusp of decades of incredibly transformative technological advances (see Ron Bailey's articles), for which these bullshitters will have no response but "Stop!"

    That's what some said about Islamic fundamentalism right before they started using hijacked airliners as cruise missiles. Don't think the "Christers" are capable of doing the same? Ask survivor of a planned parenthood clinic bombing how they feel about the subject. The bullshiters yelling "Stop" is the least of our worries.

  • PintofStout||

    Potential murder victims...possibly. Potential wage-slave, tax-paying, brain-dead herd animal...absolutlely. It's just job security.

  • ||

    "Big Pharma" does not refer to the whole pharmaceutical industry, but to a handful of large companies (most of which are in NJ; I think we can safely blame Nick Gillespie for this).

    There are many small pharmaceutical companies, which are usually based on one technology that some professor invented and a VC backed him. These companies would love to develop cures for anything, because they are all desperately trying to stay afloat.

    Also, even Big Pharma only has an interest in ignoring cures for pathogen-based diseases. No one in Big Pharma would turn down a cure for cancer, for instance, because the profit would be phenomenal, and people are still going to get cancer. Same thing for heart disease, autoimmune disorders, genetic defects, etc.

  • ||

    MDH -

    Yes, they make cures, as well - but usually only through subsidies and other give-aways.

    Vaccines are another creature all together, such that they are entirely regulated by their own federal statute. And, just to demonstrate how pervasively government mucks with the market, the demand for vaccines is far from where it would be in a free market. To enter public schools, for example, one is required to have a whole multitude of vaccines. Further, the government pays for all kinds of 'clinics' for vaccines like varicella (chicken pox) - which creates a greater demand for subsequent boosters (the safest time to come down with varicella is when you are young, so if you are immunized as a youth and miss it, and then get it when older, you're much worse off) and clinics to scare the bejesus out of people regarding other diseases so that they will get vaccinated - that is essentially the one major function of the CDC.

    None of this is meant to be a direct criticism of big pharma - they are businesses after all, whose purpose is to make profit for their owners. But if you don't understand the economics, you can't understand the effects our regulatory state has on the market.

  • ||

    I use the term "big pharma" as slang for the large corporations that are the long term players in the highly regulated industry. Most forecasts in the industry predict that it will stabilize at somewhere between 3-6 large multinationals (well, at least the forecasts from several years ago).

    This is to distinguish from venture capital firms which generally pop out one good product in research, sell it to big pharma for development and marketing, and then generally fold. They are basically forced to sell the product to big pharma because only big pharma is capable of sheperding a project through the byzantine regulatory process.

  • ||

    Akira, I agree the hardcore Chriatian loonies may lash out violently as things become progressively more "dire" for them--as these technologies progress, the social and cultural changes they cause may become unbearable for many of these types ("Surely Jesus must rapture us out of here soon!"). But, unless we let these creeps blow up the world during this interim, mankind is going to move forward nonetheless. Somebody has to play God, because he's done a shitty job of it Himself.

  • Mike||

    And, just to demonstrate how pervasively government mucks with the market, the demand for vaccines is far from where it would be in a free market. To enter public schools, for example, one is required to have a whole multitude of vaccines.

    You may not like it, but universal vaccinations have actually been one of the HUGE successes of the 20th century. Yes, it has created more demand than there would otherwise be, but it has also eliminated many diseases that were serious, horrible, constant dangers.

  • ranger||

    "Surely Jesus must rapture us out of here soon!"

    You've been listening to Micheal Savage too, huh?

  • TM Lutas||

    The phrase "potential murder victim" implies that the dividing line between what government protects and what it does not should be placed at fertilization. I've read a lot of snark in comments but not any sort of alternative of where libertarians should place that line. Placing it too far out (animal rights, plant rihts, etc) is egregious as is putting the lines too close in (serial killers, Nazis, and Communists are examples).

    The lines need to be drawn somewhere but this crowd seems (so far) to be uninterested in making a better line. Pity.

    The idea that all cells are potential humans and thus no one cell should be advanced over another is simply foolish. Taken to its ultimate conclusion, the collection of chemicals that make up the human body should be given rights because they potentially could be combined to form a new human being. Again, this is a problem of line drawing. Who is for mineral rights?

  • ranger||

    You may not like it, but universal vaccinations have actually been one of the HUGE successes of the 20th century.

    Was this necessarily b/c of the government mandate? Are you implying that given the choice people would rather be sick? There's no doubt the vaccines are successful, but to attribute that success to a government mandate is misguided. If nothing else, the only "success" would be successfully establishing a dependancy on government for personal healthcare.

  • ||

    quasibill,

    Are Amgen and Genentech part of Big Pharma? What about Biogen-Idec? What about Millenium? What about Teva? There are more than six companies in the world capable of getting a drug approved. There is no reason to think that as the industry explodes in sales and products, it will contract in the number of firms involved. Many companies develop and market their own products; the pharmaceutical industry is no different.

  • ||

    Quoth Henry:

    Although I hate the Christers, I've come to believe, despite appearances to the contrary, the growth of religious k00kism (at least in the Western world) is kind of a last desperate gasp.



    Religion is a powerful force in America. The U.S. may eventually become like Saudi Arabia -- a shadow of its former glory -- because of it.

    But faith is an unassailable opiate. One would think that despite all the empirical evidence, it would crumble under its own weight. But many a philosopher over the last few centuries has announced the demise of religion, only to be proven wrong. I would caution against gleefully awaiting the end of religious influence. Superstitious leanings may be an evolutionary vestigial.

    We may or may not become a third world country soon because of religion. But it's better to let social changes happen slowly, and allow each generation to shed another layer of religion, rather than do it quickly, and incite a violent backlash.

    All public schools teach evolution, even if they also present bullshit "alternatives." Those intelligent enough to see the world as it really is will be just fine. Those that aren't will be construction workers. Evolution at work!

  • ||

    I believe that it sounds reasonable to destroy a "cluster of cells" in order to harvest embryonic stem cells to assist in curing someone. But I don't know how I can intellectually distinguish that action from the similar action of taking that cluster of cells and implanting it in a womb, allowing it to divide for several months and thereafter aborting the fetus in order to harvest cells, or perhaps an organ, from the now-more-mature "collection of cells." In other words, I don't have a problem with destroying an embryo to harvest stem cells, but I do have a problem with destroying a fetus for similar or identical purposes, and I don't have a good explanation why one would be okay but not the other. Why is it that "few people regard a group of cells that small as the moral equivalent of a human being," but many -- maybe a majority of people -- would regard a fetus in its seventh month as the moral equivalent of a human being? Where is an intellectually honest point to draw the line?

  • bob_misses_suck||

    I submit that it might be helpful for those writing from the pro-stem cell side to use the word "blastocyst" instead of "embryo" to keep reminding people that we're talking about extremely tiny collections of cells, LONG before they are in any way viable (or even recognizable) human life.
    There are people to whom I've spoken that were on the fence, and not really cognizant of this simple fact. Unfortunately, the dark side has managed to make "embryo" invoke "baby" for many people.

  • ||

    jbk -

    you named two companies that I worked for :)

    Yes, there are some outside of big pharma that have lasted beyond the short term. However, by and large, they "farm out" their products for running through the regulatory maze. Just because TEVA's on the label, for example, doesn't mean that TEVA hasn't licensed the product to big pharma, and that the big pharma company is reaping the majority of the profit. In many cases, the marketing value of the brand name is all that the innovator retains in the final product. The licensing arrangements are complex enough that most people involved in the companies aren't even aware of the relationship.

    As for the 6 company number, that was a prediction regarding innovative companies. And it has generally borne itself out - check out all the mergers and proposed mergers of the big companies. In fact, some of the "non-big pharma" companies you cite are really under a big pharma umbrella. And Teva, well, you need to know about how the Isreali market works to understand how Teva functions (hint, think monopoly) and where its profit centers are. Teva is an anomoly in the international market place (but still very well run, for that).

    The problem with your analysis is that the market is exploding in products. It isn't. And that's the result of several factors, not the least of which is the regulatory costs imposed in getting to market. Add in the fact that most ailments have fairly successful treatments that you have to best in order to market a successful product, and pipelines are dreary, especially compared with 10 years ago. Just ask someone involved in the generic market - what are the exciting patents coming up? Then ask someone at the innovatives about their pipelines. You'll find that pharmaceuticals, yes even big pharma, are staring into the abyss right now...

  • ||

    jbk,
    From my friends in the industry, there is a lot of consolidation in the Pharma industry. This is true in most industries as the mature. All GM lines, Chrysler, Caddy, Buick were all individual car companies at one point. A lot of new drugs are developed by "small pharma" and these companies get purchased by "Big Pharma" and the marketing and production is done from there. Now a lot of times, the professors and researchers cash out and buy a place on an island or start the process anew developing new drugs. However, I'm hard pressed to think of many industries where the number of total players didn't contract (except by government mandate) as they matured, due to economies of scale.

  • ||

    Re: Big Pharma,

    Since drugs enjoy patent protection, each company has a government enforced temporary monopoly on its stable of drugs. Often there are substitutes to contend with, but in many cases, monopolistic pricing prevails. I think the negative connotation comes from some people believing that price gouging on life saving medicine is wrong. I don't think some people have really considered the alternatives.

    *grumble*
    The link above is supposed to go here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly#Monopolistic_pricing

  • ||

    kmw said:

    "We may or may not become a third world country soon because of religion. But it's better to let social changes happen slowly, and allow each generation to shed another layer of religion, rather than do it quickly, and incite a violent backlash."

    All of that is fine, if you presume the rate of change is manageable--which it isn't. What we are talking about is massive social and cultural change that will be driven advances in science and technology--and genies don't stay in bottles very long, especially when there are other societies who have no interest in such bottles to begin with.

    You don't have to be a "transhumanist", or "extropian", to see, generally, where things are headed (absent some act of self-extinction or really bad cosmic luck)--and you can shitcan "The Singularity", too, if you like. Regardless, only a nitwit denies we are on the cusp of massive change in a relatively short period of time (less than 50 years, possibly much less). These changes will dwarf in scope and speed those wrought in any comparable period of the 20th century (or any history, for that matter).

    I admit these ancient belief systems have the evolutionary resilience of the cockroach (existential dread is a powerful force indeed), but unless they have some mighty presto/change-o attributes that even I don't suspect, they are going to be hard-pressed to account for the world of 50 years of now. Surely, the branches of these religious systems that can accommodate modernity will survive, and maybe prosper (fine with me, BTW), but the fundamentalist k00ks are in their glorious twilight. The only trick, I think, is to prevent them from incinerating all of us as part of some self-fulfilling "end of the world" delusion, a delusion that gives them an obvious knot in their pants.

  • M1EK||

    The rhetorical gymnastics required to come to the Reasonably correct position that the Democrats aren't any better than the Republicans on this issue were truly impressive. My hat's off to you, man.

  • ||

    Henry,

    I should point out that I agree with everything you have written so far, and I'm extremely frustrated by the "christers" too. But they just don't seem to go away.

    You are completely right that science and knowledge will advance rapidly, especially in the next 50 years. It just probably won't be in the US of A.

    Between copyright/patent law and fundamentalism, we'll probably fall behind the tech curve in a hurry. Maybe our new Chinese overlords will be more successful at limiting religion.

  • M1EK||

    You may not like it, but universal vaccinations have actually been one of the HUGE successes of the 20th century.

    Was this necessarily b/c of the government mandate?


    YES. The problem of vaccination cannot be solved by laissez-faire.

  • ||

    knw said:

    "Maybe our new Chinese overlords will be more successful at limiting religion."

    Ah, but they have tried. "Limiting" is not going to work, nor should it (and I'm not ascribing to you the totalitarian impulses of the Chinese Communists). On the other hand, at some point you might just have to go to the barricades--sometimes the True Believers of any ilk (religious or secular) leave you no other choice. This, essentially, is what the US decided (rightly, I think, although manifested through a horribly, horribly implemented and just plain wrongheaded set of policy decions) concening a virulent strain of Islamic fundamentalism right after 9/11. Whether such a fate befalls apocalyptic strains of Christianity 20 years hence (or whenever) remains to be seen. I hope not, and think not---but keep these fuckers away from the buttons that matter, just in case.

  • ||

    "Maybe our new Chinese overlords will be more successful at limiting religion."

    The more you tighten your grip, the more they shall slip through your fingers. Neener!

  • ||

    How's this for size?

    [tongue-in-cheek]
    Maybe our new Chinese overlords will be more successful at limiting religion.
    [/tongue-in-cheek]

    Maybe I should have used a ;-) ?

    Cuz you know, damnit, the Soviets rid the world of the Russian orthodox church.

  • ||

    Heh, the article Nick links to at the end of this post gave birth to the infamous Unborn Angel incident in its comment thread. Good timez.

    And of course, Bailey is right in concluding that each individual stem cell in a blastocyst is not a baby (or even a person). However, since the stem cells can only be harvested by destroying the blastocyst, the question that needs to be asked is whether the entire blastocyst, not a single stem cell thereof, constitutes a person.

    And this of course is a question on which honest intelligent folks can disagree.

  • ||

    I forgot to add that I hate you fuckers for making me defend the religious! :->

  • ||

    My personal interest is in finding a cure for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. My now 15 year old daughter was diagnosed almost 5 years ago. So far, she has pricked her fingers approximately 11,000 times, and has taken about 7,500 insulin injections. If she had cancer, she could hope to be cured � or at least to go into remission so she wouldn't need 4 or 5 or 6 insulin shots every day just to stay alive. Right now, all we can hope for is that she doesn't have a heart attack or a stroke, that she doesn't go blind, that her kidneys keep working and that her feet and legs don't have to be amputated.

    Now, let me tell you about the economics of diabetes. Diabetics test their blood sugar levels at least four times a day � children with type 1 juvenile diabetes test more like 6 to 8 times a day. These little test strips that are used to measure blood glucose levels cost, conservatively and on average, 70 cents per strip. Diabetics who test their blood glucose level just 4 times per day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime) are spending Two Dollars and Eighty Cents per day, or a little over a thousand dollars a year, minimum, on these strips. That's over a billion dollars per year for every 1 million diabetics, and there are an estimated 17 million people suffering from diabetes in the US alone.

    Next, I am going to review the financials from the 2003 and 2004 Annual Reports of Eli Lilly & Company, one of the major producers of insulin. Before I do, I want to remind you that insulin will never cure diabetes. It is what my 15-year-old refers to as her 'lifeline'. It keeps a diabetic alive, but does not prevent the catastrophic side effects. And it will never cure anyone!

    2003: "Our worldwide sales�increased 14%, to 12.58 billion dollars." Sources of revenue: "Diabetes care products, composed primarily of Humulin�Humalog�and Actos�had aggregate worldwide revenues of 2.57 billion dollars." Ladies and gentlemen, 20% of the worldwide sales were from 3 products, 2 of which (Humulin and Humalog) are for 'maintenance' of type 1 diabetics. In 2003, Humulin sales in the US were 507.5 million dollars, and were 658.6 million dollars for Humalog.

    The 2004 numbers are equally staggering. The same three products had aggregate worldwide revenues of 2.61 billion dollars. Humulin sales in the US were only 422.7 million, but Humalog sales in the US were up to 685.4 million dollars. An explanation offered by Eli Lilly is (and this is a direct quote!) "Humalog sales in the US increased 3 percent as increased prices offset slight volume declines."

    That's 5.18 billion dollars in a two-year period � to treat patients who will not get better. That's a whole lot of insurance and medicare dollars going to two drugs to maintain a condition for which there actually might be a cure.

    Breakthroughs using stem cell therapies have been announced all over the world, and involving many conditions, such as reversing the side effects of diabetes, curing type 1 juvenile diabetes, restoration of immune systems in cancer patients, improvement of a Parkinson's patient's motor skills by 83%, reversal of heart tissue damage in a heart attack victim, the list goes on and on. Stem cells work, and more research is needed.


    This is not a religious issue. This is a health issue. This is a "where are my Medicare dollars going?" issue � a quality of life issue. Even though the dollars are huge, let's not forget that the main benefits from stem cell research and therapies are to improve the health and to save the lives of millions who suffer, or who may in the future suffer from diseases that could be treated or cured with new stem cell therapies. We are talking about improvement of the quality of a human life!

  • M. Simon||

    What is the difference between an acorn and a tree?

  • ||

    Only one of them is a tree.

    The other isn' a tree.

  • ||

    squirrels don't shit out trees a few hours after eating them.

  • Captain Holly||

    Reading the blatant anti-religious bigotry in these comments reminds me why I've never joined the Libertarian Party.

    Incidentally, for those of you who think the Christian/religious world will eventually fade away, consider this: Census data show that we're the ones having children. You're not.

    Or to put it more simply, my wife and I have four children. How many do each of you have?

    Who do you think will have more influence at the ballot box in 2020, my family or yours?

    Darwinism in action, folks.

  • Al Barger||

    I would suggest not being quite so adamant about labeling the Libertarian Party as anti-religious. Particularly here in Indiana, our candidate for governor in 2004 was Kenn Gividen, a fine preacher man. Our Marion county (ie Indianapolis) chair is also a personally conservative Christian minister.

    Other than that, I apologize for the occasionally uncivil attitudes displayed by some of our members.

  • ||

    Wow, feel the hate.

    You might think that those who are brilliant and perceptive enough to see that Big Pharma has combined forces with the FDA, Halliburton, the Carlyle Group, the Vatican, and the Freemasons to keep Americans sick so they can sell them more drugs would also be wise enough to realize that one generally does not achieve his long-goals by insulting large numbers of his natural allies. You'd be reasonable to think that, but you'd be wrong.

    Seriously, do all nutjobs (Libertoid, left-wing, right-wing, Islamazoid) go to the Institute for the Advanced Study of Impossibly Convoluted Conspiracies? You all sound exactly the same. The only difference is the proposed solution.

    The irony here is delicious. Apparently the "Christers" are the greatest threat to western civilization since [insert paranoid Libertoid bogeyman here], as evidenced by the constant abortion clinic bombings and shooting that you can't get past page one of any newspaper without seeing. And now that they're on this whole "Rapture" kick, watch out! They're going to kill you and everyone else at the Ayn Rand Circle Jerk and get their Rapture on before the cops show up.

    Of course, we all know that the Rapture isn't right around the corner. But we all know that our Glorious Transhumanist Future is, and best of all, we have a date: within the next fifty years! Within the next fifty years, all religion will fall away, crushed under the foot of the Goddess Reason! In the next fifty years, all diseases will be cured by rubbing some embryonic stems cells on the sick! Within the next fifty years, Leviathan will be overthrown and the world will be governed with absolute Libertarian purity! Within the next fifty years, you'll move out of your parents' basement, step out into the sunlight, and get laid!

    It's funny - I called myself a libertarian until I started reading Reason. It was at that point that I realized what a detatched-from-reality wank the whole thing was. I'll close by enthusiastically seconding the comments of Captain Holly. You might want to rethink your approach to pop evolutionary biology if you think that partaking of abortion on demand and the aggressive satiation of base impulses is going to result in more libertarians than Christians in fifty years.

    If you people ever want to be taken seriously, you're going to have to make libertarianism stand for something other than a big thumbs-up to anonymous butt-sex and drug abuse, sneering at all religion, and a general "fuck you" to anyone who those who suffer misfortune. Until then, enjoy your secular fundamentalist delusions.

  • Mark Bahner||

    "On the flip side, pro-choicers imply there's something skeevy about abortion when they insist it should be legal, safe, and rare--why "rare" if it is simply a routine medical procedure?"

    Pumping out a stomach after excessive alcohol consumption is a fairly straightforward medical procedure. But most people would agree that it should be a "rare" procedure. That is, it's far preferable to not have anyone drink that much in the first place.

    I can't imagine anyone who thinks that abortions are preferable to people not having unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

  • ||

    My personal interest is in finding a cure for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. My
    now 15 year old daughter was diagnosed almost 5 years ago. So far, she has
    pricked her fingers approximately 11,000 times, and has taken about 7,500
    insulin injections. If she had cancer, she could hope to be cured � or at
    least to go into remission so she wouldn''t need 4 or 5 or 6 insulin shots
    every day just to stay alive. Right now, all we can hope for is that she
    doesn't have a heart attack or a stroke, that she doesn't go blind, that
    her kidneys keep working and that her feet and legs don't have to be amputated.

    Now, let me tell you about the economics of diabetes. Diabetics test their
    blood sugar levels at least four times a day � children with type 1
    juvenile diabetes test more like 6 to 8 times a day. These little test
    strips that are used to measure blood glucose levels cost, conservatively
    and on average, 70 cents per strip. Diabetics who test their blood glucose
    level just 4 times per day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime) are spending
    Two Dollars and Eighty Cents per day, or a little over a thousand dollars a
    year, minimum, on these strips. That's over a billion dollars per year for
    every 1 million diabetics, and there are an estimated 17 million people
    suffering from diabetes in the US alone.

    Next, I am going to review the financials from the 2003 and 2004 Annual
    Reports of Eli Lilly & Company, one of the major producers of insulin.
    Before I do, I want to remind you that insulin will never cure diabetes. It
    is what my 15-year-old refers to as her 'lifeline'. It keeps a diabetic
    alive, but does not prevent the catastrophic side effects. And it will
    never cure anyone!

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