Friday, April 27, 2007

Making us Better... People.

There is an interesting article in the BMJ at the moment criticising the prescription of medicine to prevent type two diabetes, when this can be prevented by lifestyle changes. While the focus of the article is on equity and containing health care costs, the authors also suggest that providing public money to pay for these pills would send the 'wrong' message.

In a sense this message would be that instead of changing your lifestyle you can simply pop a pill and solve your problems now. I agree with the authors that this is a wrong message and indeed one we ought to combat, from a public health & health perspective, not to mention something we should try and dampen down on a societal level. (The culture of non-delayed gratification and the avoidance of doing difficult things to get eventual rewards) But I am reluctant to endorse not publicly funding this drug on these grounds. The reluctance stems from a general liberal reluctance for the state to be involved with promoting one concept of the good life to it's citizens. In effect not funding for this reason is saying, be a better person and you won't need the medication...

Of course there is a further reason, some of the people who will be missing out on this medication will be those who haven't had much of a chance, people who have missed out in terms of the distribution of resources in our society. It may well be questioned how much personal responsibility these people should take for the traits they have developed.

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