Monday, February 2, 2009

Google-esque Drug Trials

Problems with drug trials: They’re REALLY expensive and don’t actually give information that’s all that useful. They answer the question “Is this drug more effective than a sugar pill for everyone with a given disease?” If yes, approval. If no, illegal. What if it works really well for some people? Too bad. What if it works for another condition “Off label use”? Irrelevant (you’d need to do another really expensive study to answer that question). And it takes a really really long time to do one of these. So your answer is at least two years old by the time you’re done. So let’s take a lesson from Google and design a drug trial with the following parameters:

• Always in beta. You never ‘release’ the drug; everybody who ever takes it contributes their health results and statistics to the dynamic database.

• Huge dataset. Everybody taking the drug is a part of the database.

• Searchable. A doctor would be able to search for the running efficacy for “20-30 year old Caucasian with severe chest pain after heart attack”. This would give you the best possible answer for your situation. You don’t care how well it works for 80 year olds. The FDA does, but that info doesn’t help you.

• Moderated, not Regulated. With a trial ongoing, there is not the need for regulation of drugs with the intensity that the FDA regulates now. So long as patients and doctors know the information, they should be able to make decisions on their own risk, not risk thresholds set by bureaucrats.

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