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The Cure in the Code: How 20th Century Law Is Undermining 21st Century Medicineby Peter W. Huber
Synopses & Reviews
Never before have two revolutions with so much potential to save and prolong human life occurred simultaneously. The converging, synergistic power of the biochemical and digital revolutions now allows us to read every letter of lifes code, create precisely targeted drugs to control it, and tailor their use to individual patients. Cancer, diabetes, Alzheimers and countless other killers can be vanquished—if we make full use of the tools of modern drug design and allow doctors the use of modern data gathering and analytical tools when prescribing drugs to their patients.
But Washington stands in the way, clinging to outdated drug-approval protocols developed decades ago during medicines long battle with the infectious epidemics of the past. Peter Huber, an expert in science, technology, and public policy, demonstrates why Washingtons one-size-fits-all drug policies cant deal with diseases rooted in the complex molecular diversity of human bodies. Washington is ill-equipped to handle the torrents of data that now propel the advance of molecular medicine and is reluctant to embrace the statistical methods of the digital age that can. Obsolete economic policies, often rationalized as cost-saving measures, stifle innovation and suppress investment in the medicine that can provide the best cures at the lowest cost.
In the 1980s, an AIDS diagnosis was a death sentence, until the FDA loosened its throttling grip and began streamlining and accelerating approval of life-saving drugs. The Cure in the Code shows patients, doctors, investors, and policy makers what we must now do to capture the full life-saving and cost-saving potential of the revolution in molecular medicine. America has to choose. At stake for America is the power to lead the world in mastering the most free, fecund, competitive, dynamic, and intelligent natural resource on the planet—the molecular code that spawns human life and controls our health.
"Digital and biochemical revolutions have made it possible to decode what ails us and help determine the remedy — if only Washington and the FDA would get out of the way — argues Huber, a lawyer and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, in this provocative, optimistic look at modern medicine. He envisions a free-market ideology for drug development and usage that, thanks to digital technology, will cheaply design new drugs and predict how well they perform and on whom. But Huber, who popularized the term 'junk science' with his 1991 book Galileo's Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom, believes Washington nudges doctors away from the Hippocratic oath to 'prescribe regimens for the good of my patients' and toward 'veterinarian ethics — the sick dog's treatment is determined by the master's willingness to pay.' There's no middle ground in the war between the 20th and 21st century medicine, Huber believes — we must choose between medicine that deals with 'biochemical reality' or is 'favored by crowd doctors' who 'cling to the view that if they scrutinize, track, certify, and choreograph things just right, they can deliver better medicine to all from afar.' Huber's challenge is sure to spark controversy as the U.S. adapts to the Affordable Care Act." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Medicine has become a true information industry, with drug designers able to read every molecular letter of lifes code DNA and create miracle drugs to control it. Our understanding of DNA has advanced to the point that we can now build a medical system tailored to individuals. But these advances in science will not automatically translate to better patient care, argues Manhattan Institute senior fellow Peter Huber. Now that medicine takes place on the molecular level, massive public health initiatives designed to attack infectious diseases are no longer necessary, and government intervention has instead become a burden: stifling innovation and strangling industries with bureaucracy. Further, due to its reluctance to embrace the statistical methods of the information age, Washington is ill-equipped to determine which drugs are safe and effective for which patients.
In The Cure in the Code, Huber demonstrates convincingly that we are at the beginning of a medical revolution with the potential to dramatically improve the length and quality of our lives—but only if we abandon a regulatory framework that's a relic of the past.
About the Author
Peter Huber is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, where he specializes in issues of drug development, energy, technology, and the law, and is also a partner at the law firm of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans and Figel. He lives in Hanover, New Hampshire.
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