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Well, thank God #4

I just heard about this smashing victory in our glorious Crusade against Drugs this evening:

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Rush Limbaugh was detained for more than three hours Monday at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.

Customs officials found a prescription bottle labeled as Viagra in his luggage that didn’t have Limbaugh’s name on it, but that of two doctors, said Paul Miller, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

… The matter was referred to the sheriff’s office, whose investigators interviewed Limbaugh. According to Miller, Limbaugh said that the Viagra was for his use, and that he obtained it from his doctors.

Investigators confiscated the drugs, which treats erectile dysfunction, and Limbaugh was released without being charged.

The sheriff’s office plans to file a report with the state attorney’s office. Miller said it could be a second-degree misdemeanor violation.

— Associated Press (2006-06-26): Limbaugh detained at Palm Beach airport

Well! Thank God for the narcs and the customs goons. If they weren’t there to rifle through your bags and take your pills at gunpoint, who would save us from the scourge of unauthorized erections? Who would protect us from old men having boners not in their own name?

Further reading:

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8 replies to Well, thank God #4 Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Devil's Advocate

    The problem, of course, is that Viagra doesn’t just cause erections. It has a number of side effects, including raising blood pressure. To people who are in poor health, have genetically high blood pressure, or are overweight (such as Mr. Limbaugh), that could pose a health danger. Drug regulation forces people to consult medical experts before they use potentially dangerous drugs. If you truly have a medical need for a drug, there isn’t a doctor in America who won’t give you the prescription.

    We live in an unprecedented time. Thanks to aggressive R&D by Big Pharma, we have more drugs available than at any time in history — thousands of them. Allowing drugs to flood the market unregulated and permitting people to self-experiment would be a recipe for disaster. There are complex and dangerous combinations, there are specific protocols for safe use, and people should see medical professionals before using most drugs. Sure, a small percentage of us may be smart enough to diagnose ourselves and treat ourselves, but I think that the vast majority of the population is not.

    So while drug regulation isn’t perfect, and drugs get into the hands of people who misuse them, and unfortunate deaths occur even with regulations, it’s better than the alternative.

  2. Joshua Lyle

    Re: Devil’s Advocate

    While your advocacy may seem convincing on its face, your use of the wholly subjective terms “medical expert”, “medical need” and “safe use” inspires little sympathy for your client.

    Whether a drug’s use is “safe” is not simply a estimation of its risks, but the evaluation of those risks by an individual involving their preferences and “need”, which is only apparent to them and inestimible by an “expert”. Hence, my need is only evident by my claim, and if that true need gathers me an automatic perscription, then your regulation buys us merely a tax on medication paid to doctors.

    The busybody experts in the real world, however, not only interfere with the self-treatment of medical prodigies, but with the risk evaluations of all of us, forcing those whose perferences do not precisely align with what the autocrats command to turn to the black market or receive treatment inapropriate to our unique conditions.

  3. Alex Gregory

    Joshua,

    I think your comments might merit some leniency in the direction of deregulation, but they don’t go all the way.

    the evaluation of those risks by an individual involving their preferences and need, which is only apparent to them and inestimible by an expert.

    For instance, this might apply to some things (perhaps I’m willing to undergo 3% rather than 2% risk of death for my boner), but in other cases it just won’t cut it. You don’t need to ask the patient if they evaluate a 90% chance of death to be a bad thing. There might be marginal cases where more discretion for the individual is desirable, but isn’t it the case that there are more extreme cases where regulation is desirable because estimating the patients wants is not so tricky?

  4. Joshua Lyle

    Re: Alex Gregory

    First, I recognize that there are very real and necessary times in which someone must serve medical judgement for someone else, which is the purpose of durable power of attorney; in such cases the valid authority comes solely from the consensual transference of the patient’s rights.

    However, your pseudo-examples are not sufficient to void my argument in the general case. For instance, I may have to choose between a 90% chance of death and a surgery that has a 99% chance of leaving me paralyzed, and it is entirely reasonable for me to prefer that chance of death to that chance of a sessile existence (or just the opposite), although it is the doctrine of modern medicine to save life before limb regardless.

    Now, it is hard for me to argue against using that doctrine in emergency services when a person has immediate needs and is unable to communicate his or her desires, but even in such a case a med-alert bracelet or the like instructing otherwise should be followed. So while I agree that voluntary default standards are desirable (even to the extent that pharmacists of their own accord might only sell medication that is physician-recommended or doctors only prescribe medication that is approved by their favorite ratings organization), individual choice should always trump and should not be interfered with by the deadly force of law, which is ultimately what is meant by “regulation”: jailing, fining, or shooting people if they don’t agree with you about the maintenance of their heath.

  5. Discussed at atopian.org

    atopian.org:

    Does authority matter?

    Over at Radgeek, I question whether complete deregulation of drugs is a good thing. I should make clear that I’m generally in favour (although I confess I don’t know enough to hold my opinion confidently) of liberalisation on drugs – but I do think that

  6. Devil's Advocate

    While your advocacy may seem convincing on its face, your use of the wholly subjective terms “medical expert”, “medical need” and “safe use” inspires little sympathy for your client.

    This is a naive criticism. Make a random sample of 1000 people take the United States Medical Licensing Exam (let’s say just Step 1) and I bet it would have a better than 95% accuracy rate at identifying the doctors in the crowd.

    …but the evaluation of those risks by an individual involving their preferences and “need”, which is only apparent to them and inestimible by an “expert”

    Nonsense. Perhaps if you’re talking about analgesics for subjective pain, but most conditions are identified through rigorous tests which nobody (or few) are capable of diagnosing on their own. A pain here or there only alerts you that something is wrong. A rigorous physiological profile must be attained to identify the underlying cause.

    That you have a runny nose and soar throat only tells you that you’re sick. Medical tests will tell you whether it’s viral or bacterial, and therefore whether it’s worthwhile to take antibiotics. Misuse of antibiotics by laymen trying to treat themselves without medical supervision (and vanely trying to treat a viral infection with antiobiotics) would accelerate the evolution drug resistant bacterial strains. But not only can medical tests differentiate between viruses and bacteria, they can tell you the actual pathogen, and a competent medical professional can prescribe more specific medications.

    The busybody experts in the real world, however, not only interfere with the self-treatment of medical prodigies

    And how many of those are there in the world? The vast majority of the population does not qualify. Busybody experts are a necessity to the vast majority.

    forcing those whose perferences do not precisely align with what the autocrats command to turn to the black market or receive treatment inapropriate to our unique conditions

    As I said before, a small percentage may be competent, but the majority are not. The alternative, flooding the market with thousands of drugs for self-experimentation is far worse than some of the trade offs we’re forced to make now.

  7. Devil's Advocate

    For instance, I may have to choose between a 90% chance of death and a surgery that has a 99% chance of leaving me paralyzed, and it is entirely reasonable for me to prefer that chance of death to that chance of a sessile existence (or just the opposite), although it is the doctrine of modern medicine to save life before limb regardless.

    This is not what I’m talking about at all. This isn’t a medical decision (a diagnosis with attendant treatment recommendation) but an ethical decision. No doctor forces a patient into any treatment program. You can refuse to take any drug or any surgery. It is the role of the medical expert to diagnose your condition and inform you of the treatments that are available. THAT is what most people are incapable of doing on their own, at least nowhere near as good as physicians. What they choose to do with that information is entirely up to them.

    Regulations prevent people from using treatments that they don’t need and/or would be harmful to them.

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