That didn’t take long. Eight days after President Obama promised to make a cancer cure “moonshot” effort in his State of the Union address, the Senate has cancelled the launch.
The Senate’s health committee announced Tuesday it will not take up a major House-passed biomedical research package known as 21st Century Cures, dealing a major blow to leaders in the lower chamber.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who heads the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said Tuesday that members will vote separately on bills ranging from neurological diseases research to electronic medical records.
I think it’s important that government have some involvement in curing major diseases–leaving such things completely to private companies leads to problems like the despicable Martin Shkreli Daraprim scandal. Cancer is a huge money-maker for profit-center companies like Cancer Treatment Centers of America. That’s not to say that the doctors and staff at those places like cancer (although Bernie Sanders might say so). They want a cure as much as anyone.
But if there were a magic pill available for free tomorrow that cured all forms of cancer, not a few billionaires would lose fortunes. I would not shed a tear for them.
However, the government should not become the be-all, end-all of cancer research. First, it’s inefficient–Congress does not move at the speed of private donations and foundations that fund the latest treatments and research. Second, it’s dangerous to create a motive more pernicious than profit.
The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.
It’s unlikely that throwing a few billion dollars at cancer would make a dent. Better that we throw money at the Israel Cancer Research Fund–some of the best new treatments and early detection methods are coming from that small nation (which Obama despises).
Even better, let’s take that $100 billion Obama released to Iran, that they will certainly use to try to destroy Israel, and put THAT money into cancer research. And we can start by putting $50 billion of it into Israeli breakthroughs. Maybe the Senate can take that up instead.