One of the more puzzling complaints I’ve heard recently is that the unapproved, unproven Ebola treatments aren’t being offered to everyone, just a few first worlders.
Unapproved medicines are unapproved for a reason. Normally there’s a slow, tedious process (from what I understand) with double-blind tests and control groups to prove that the medicine is effective and to study the unintended side effects.
Researchers have to limit how many patients they use in their trials; they can’t monitor as many candidates as they may have, no matter how earnest or desperate the candidates are. It’s simply a numbers game. When you get to numbers games, you are in the territory of, “Life is not fair.” Then you get into factors that are more about the researchers than the test subjects. Can you monitor patients in Liberia as well as the patients brought to Atlanta? How many doses do you have? Are you ready for trials, or are you rushing trials just to give hope to a few people who willingly risked their lives to help others? Does this imply that people who put themselves at risk are more valuable than those whose risk of Ebola is a consequence of the circumstances of their lives?
Is it better if no one gets the medication than if a few non-randomly-chosen victims get it? Is unfair progress better than no progress at all?
I don’t mind asking once, “Is there a way to try this medicine in Africa as well as in Atlanta?” but once the question is answered, I really wish people would accept the answer and support the trials any way they can instead of being upset that the trials can’t do more for a more diverse pool of short-term beneficiaries. It’s not like researchers didn’t pay attention to Ebola until Westerners got it. If there are treatments that are ready for experimental use, it’s because “they” were already working on the disease before Western relief workers contracted the disease.
It’s a “half-full, half-empty glass,” situation. I choose to be thankful that there’s anything in the glass at all, at least in this case.