Friday, August 29, 2014

Hemophelia A

     Okay, I have a question.

      It is a question about ethics, about morals, about human values.

     Hemophilia A is a complex of related human health disorders.  What these disorders have in common is a weakness or total inability for a person's blood to clot and thus to control and stop bleeding from wounds.  Scientists have isolated several different factors which can separately or together bring about this symptom.  For the most part these factors are all genetic.  Like certain other traits (baldness, for example), these traits appear primarily in the males of the species but they are primarily passed by the females  (if you are bald, you got the gene for baldness from your mother whose father gave it to her.).  For over 18,000 people in the US, an episode of bleeding  can be life-threatening.

     Baxter International is a pharmeceutical and medical device company specializing in issues involving blood such as hemophilia and dialysis.  One of their top sellers is a drug called "Advate" used to prevent bleeding episodes for hemophylliacs.  In other words, people suffering from these disorders will commonly be maintained on this drug.  They will take it all the time.  Because the condition has no known cure, they will have to take the drug for life.

     Advate treatment can cost a patient as much as $12,500 per week, $600,000 per year, though $120,000 is closer to the average.

     Obviously relatively few patients earn enough money to pay for their own treatments.  By and large, the costs for this treatment must fall back on society at large, either the large insurance companies or else the even larger governments must pay most of this cost.

      So my simple question is this:  does the society, the government if you will, which is paying these costs, have the right to demand and to enforce sterility upon the recipients of the treatment?  I will appreciate a variety of responses.


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