Thursday, November 20, 2008
Did anyone see the recent episode of the television medical drama, House, in which the black doctor on Dr. House's team assigned a high blood pressure medicine to an older black male patient after telling the patient something along the lines that the drug works really well on "us" meaning blacks? The patient was skeptical and refused to take the drug. He made a new appointment, this time to see Dr. House who, after chastising the patient essentially for being stupid, prescribed him the same drug. Of course, anyone familiar with the show would not be surprised to know that Dr. House, in order to get the patient to fill the prescription, misrepresented what he was prescribing and told the patient that he was prescribing the same medicine that he would give to his white patients when, in fact, he wrote the prescription for the same drug the black doctor had prescribed. The unsuspecting patient went away happy as a lark.
This episode caught my attention because of Dorothy Roberts' work on race-specific pharmaceuticals, specifically BiDil, which is advertised as a drug designed to treat heart failure in blacks. It was really interesting to see the concept of race specific medicine presented on prime time. There was never any discussion amongst the characters about whether there is any real genetic basis for targeting drugs to patients based on race. I am interested in how IP is driving this new demand / trend?
Carol N. Brown
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