Terminally ill fight for right to use unapproved drugs

The War on Drugs, as libertarian Laurence Vance put it, is “is a monstrous evil that has ruined more lives than drugs themselves. The war on drugs is really just a war on individual liberty, private property, civil liberties, financial privacy, personal responsibility, the free market, a free society, and freedom itself.”

A recent story in the news makes this point rather poignantly:

Keith Knapp married his high school sweetheart Mikaela. He and Mikaela thought they had their whole lives ahead of them — until last year, when she was diagnosed with a terminal form of kidney cancer. This began a fight that the two of them never imagined, as they tried to gain access to a promising, but not-yet-FDA-approved, drug that was doing well in clinical trials. The couple learned that without being in one of these trials, current law would not allow them access to the experimental treatment.

From her hospital bed, Mikaela said recently: “People die from not being able to access these drugs all the time. I don’t want to be one of them.”

But sadly, she was. Despite her husband’s passionate efforts to lobby members of Congress, pharmaceutical companies and the FDA — and a huge media campaign — Mikaela lost her battle just two weeks ago.

The idea that the State has the authority to tell you what you can and cannot put into your own body is misguided, naive, and has turned thousands of people into criminals while allowing drug companies to limit competition through the FDA. The film Dallas Buyers Club shows how the difference between approved and non-approved drugs has absolutely nothing to do with safety of the patient or the effectiveness of the drug to treat or cure an illness or disease.

And really, all that is irrelevant anyways. It doesn’t matter. The moment someone else gets to decide what is appropriate for you to consume, you do not completely own your body.

As Vance writes later in his article:

Neither I nor any other libertarian professes to have all the “right” or “libertarian” answers to every question raised about the drug war. One thing is for sure: The world is full of dangerous items and substances, but it is the job of individuals, families, churches, consumer groups, and concerned organizations to keep Americans from using or abusing them—not the government.

On that note, it’s funny that those who accuse libertarians of lacking compassion fall silent when we point out how cruel such a system like this is to have in place. We don’t believe it is compassionate to deny a dying woman the right to choose what drugs she will consume in an effort to save her life because they haven’t been approved by people she neither knows nor consented to making that decision for her.


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