Don't Poison My Blood


There is a gruesome, apparently incurable disease called Chagas that plagues Latin America. It is starting to seep into the United States' blood supply now, partly because the FDA has failed to approve a Chagas-detecting test, according to Tyler Cowen (citing this New York Times article).


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  1. I read Cowen’s piece yesterday. Had trouble with lunch. Blech.

  2. Hopefully at some point in the near future the idea of transfusing actual human blood instead of sterile artificial blood will seem barbaric and reckless — the stuff of old war movies or third world healthcare.

  3. Yet many insist that the solution lies with further regulation. Hmmmm.

  4. That happened to my ferret.

  5. God forbid some FDA wonk should approve something not 100% perfect. It might embarrass the FDA and undermine trust in their imprimatur, infallible as it is.

    What a great example of a bureaucracy in action [err inaction] – better to let some folks die when they can’t be blamed; no good tests, you see, they’d have died anyway vs. some folks (fewer) who might have died due to an imperfect test with an FDA stamp of approval on it. Gotta protect the Brand.

  6. We need a generic version of the FDA, the Discount Food and Drug Administration. “Don’t by those pills honey, they only have DFDA approval, not FDA.”

  7. From NYT article:
    “About 30 tests are used in different countries, but none meet F.D.A. accuracy standards. Some Latin American blood banks disinfect with gentian violet, but it is unpopular because it gives recipients a purplish tinge.”

    That is just cool. Coming out of surgery purple.

  8. Isn’t that this the same problem they had with AIDS and Hepatitis? The FDA and the blood advisory board couldn’t get off their asses and approve a simple test.

  9. Bottom of the article points out that while disease is disgusting, it ain’t worth spending money on a test. If disease becomes more common, yes, but not now. They make the good point that if you are getting a tranfusion you are probably going to die soon anyway, so why worry about a parasite that makes your heart explode years from now?

    Cost concerns made blood banks hesitant, Dr. Kirchhoff said. It may cost $50 million to $100 million a year to screen the whole United States blood supply, he estimated, and “people will reasonably say, `Why should we do this if we’re not seeing a lot of sick people?’ ”

    Although perhaps 120 Americans a year get infected blood, he said, between 70 and 90 percent will not become seriously ill, and few of those who do will live long enough to die of Chagas

  10. Can we stop panicing about every little problem that comes along?

    Friends, we are all going to die eventually, and there is no government action that is going to prevent this.

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