Saturday, January 14, 2017

Is a cure a problem?

Is a cure a problem?
          Vox media published an article titled “Half of the cancer drugs journalists called “miracles”and “cures” were not approved by the FDA,” in October 2015 stating that the use of attractive adjectives in drug advertisements is biasing the consumer by marketing drugs that are not available in clinic. Belluz, author of the article, states this “overselling” of a drug is creating false hope for patients as well as, helping to form misguided policies. While the claims are not false, this form of bias is not harmful but hopeful.
Would we get the average person to read science articles about the latest drug discoveries if these adjectives were not included in the title? Probably not. If adding a word to the title biases a person towards reading a piece of science it may be a necessary evil for the public. Also, if policies are being formed by this public, why do these policies have to be misguided? Are the titles so profound that they neglect the rest of the article? Are they truly so biased by the title that they don’t feel it necessary to make an informed and educated opinion? The argument that these words are misguiding policy makers is poor without proof of what these policy makers read prior to decision making.
Break-through, ground breaking, and cure may be deceptive words but they are also providing optimism for patients and caregivers. Optimism bias clouds our perception of reality. This optimism bias can provide comfort to the patient without options. Maybe these drugs being described aren’t the real cure for cancer but, they are inherently providing hope. Belluz states this hope is bad but hope is one of the necessary ingredients for fighting cancer. It is why there are colored ribbons, fundraising events, and millions of dollars flowing into cancer research. Cancer research is being done and that means the cure is closer. The adjectives describing these discoveries are motivating lay people to spend their time learning and donating to a worthy cause. A biased consumer is a hopeful consumer in the profession of drug discovery.

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