Would the reaction be similar if the label stated "For Blacks Only"?
Either label teems of racism, no?
Not so, according to the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Henry I. Miller, MD, in an article published in Defining Ideas.
First: Some background
In early clinical trials, a development stage drug--BiDil--failed to produce
sufficient evidence to warrant U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
approval. However, sorting the data into various subgroups suggested that
BiDil benefited Black patients, in particular.
A trial was subsequently performed on 1,050 self-identified Black patients
with severe heart failure who had already been treated with--but had not
positively responded to--the best currently available therapies. The results
--a 43% reduction in mortality and 39% decrease in hospital visits among
patients receiving BiDil--were so astounding that the study was terminated
early and the FDA approved Bildil in 2005 for Black patients (although it
can be prescribed off-label for anyone).
Second: Some discussion
Is it appropriate for a drug label to identify race?
Some very learned people respond "No." For example, the professor of medicine at Columbia University in New York, Dr. Abigail Zuger, states:
It has been clear for decades that race has minimal relevance to the body's
inner workings. Research has repeatedly shown that the biologic variations
among individuals of the same race are reliably great enough for race to
retain little utility as a biologic predictor. You might as well sort people by
Generally speaking, Dr. Zuger is correct. But, in this particular case, the data indicate that "sorting" the data by race had the entirely beneficial effect of providing a drug that in Blacks reduced mortality due to cardiac disease by greater than 40% and reducing hospital visits by nearly 40%.
Third: A conclusion
Research involves an unfettered search for the truth, wherever the honest data may lead. As Dr. Miller, MD, observed:
...race or ethnic origin--although far less precise than molecular markers--
can sometimes serve as a useful surrogate for more precisely defined
"Truth in labeling" isn't inherently racist, except for the practitioners of political correctness.
Let the discussion begin...
To read Dr. Miller's article, click on the following link:
"Race, Medicine, and Political Correctness."