Understanding drugs

A friend was trying to comfort me.  She suggested that maybe there would be a new drug treatment soon.  I said there wouldn’t be because, well, there won’t be.

The process is slow.  If a scientist comes across some great discovery today, it will be many years before it is a drug that I could take.  And of course, even then, my doctor may not want to prescribe it or my insurance may not cover it.  But first there needs to be a drug that could help, and there just aren’t very many of those.

It was reassuring to see this article in the newspaper the other day.  Sometimes, like with penicillin, there are fortuitous accidents.  I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to wait around and hope that someone gets lucky.  A lot of medications are used off-label, meaning they were developed to treat one thing, and ended up working well for something else (think: Viagra.)  And then there are the meds that are being used as they were designed.  I suppose I could do some research to figure out how many of these exist now, but I’m too tired or too lazy or maybe both.  The point is, there are a lot of medications that are not being used as they were designed.  That’s ok, but wouldn’t it be nice if it didn’t have to happen that way, because drug interactions were so well understood that scientists could design medications to treat any condition they chose?

That’s the dream.  Reading this article, it’s good to see that some people are pursuing this approach, and I sincerely hope they can make it work, and soon.  Now I know that doesn’t mean I’d get a drug that would help my conditions specifically.  I’m sure these methods would be used to treat more common illnesses first.  Still, after they treat cancer and AIDS and so many others, maybe, one day, they’ll get around to mine.

There are limited resources, and time continues to alternately crawl and fly by, but it’s encouraging to see progress like this.  Throwing money at research isn’t enough.  Politicians and argue forever about how to allocate funds.  At the end of the day, though, it’s about being smart.  Think about how much farther the dollars would go with greater understanding of the human body.  Think about what could be achieved!


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