Friday, July 29, 2005

From my local papers

I usually keep on top of the local papers for my Philadelphia blog (see sidebar), but these two stories caught my interest for non-regional reasons. I apologize if either site requires registration -- I can no longer remember...
  1. The Inquirer headlines the release of the first medicine for blacks only, that is, a drug designed specifically for the way that African-Americans respond to heart medication (which has differed consistently from the responses of Caucasian patients).
    The FDA on June 23 approved BiDil for "self-identified African Americans," leaving room for interpretation. The agency has looked at race before, but only to warn against, not encourage, patients' use of certain drugs.
    The article focuses more on the ethics of race-specific drug development than on how or why patients of different races appear to experience heart disease differently (which I might have found more interesting)...
    "If we can find a drug that works, by all means we should use that," said Charles R. Bridges, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital. "But this should not be misinterpreted to reinforce the concept that race is a useful way of defining" biological differences.
  2. The front-page story in this week's CityPaper is called "Ms. deYoung Goes to Washington," and is about one woman's testimony to the unseen domestic costs of the war in Iraq -- not just in casualties, but in programs that have been sacrificed to the pricetag of the war.
    By letting Americans see that specific examples of waste in Iraq can equate — dollar for dollar — to a service that's been cut in their own community, she thinks voters might force their elected officials' hands.
    . . .
    It seems today's United States is nothing like it was in the World War II era, when a Democratic senator named Harry Truman forced a Democratic administration to answer allegations of war profiteering. His committee was given an initial budget of $15,000. It saved Americans $15 billion. Now, the party in power would just as soon sweep the issue under Cheney's bunker rug. Not a single Republican lawmaker has broken ranks and said, hey, maybe we ought to take a look at these allegations, embarrassment be damned. This is what the matronly woman who never had children of her own is up against.
    Their focus is on money squandered on poorly accounted-for charges from contractors like Haliburton, but the argument could eaily be expanded to a guns-versus-butter reassessment of the entire undertaking.

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