Monday, October 16, 2006

Sickness and Death in Panama: The Tragic Effects of Tainted Medicine

Out of the New York Times comes this sad and disgusting story about governmental incompetence (or intent to kill, as some speculate) from Panama. While Americans (rightly) complain about the pharmaceutical companies' power both in the medical and political professions (does anybody remember hearing about alleged cases of ADHD in mass quantities before the drug companies found ways to make millions off of "treatment"?), we should be grateful for the governmental regulation we have on medical production. As the article (which isn't perfect - the pseud-sleuth story involving the CDC trying to figure out what the cause of the deaths was is a little fake and adds a sense of cavalier science to a horrible story) points out, incidences like the one in Panama aren't uncommon, and generally derive from the state's failure to try to protect its citizens in legitimate ways (instead of building up the military for a war that will probably never come). Despite our cynicism in the U.S., the government still does provide services which, whether we realize it or not, can be useful. Let us only hope that Panama and other governments build the infrastructure to protect their citizens from tainted cough syrup.