Dec 28, 2011

The Congo mineral embargo

David Aronson compares it to a hypothetical pharmaceutical:
Imagine that your stated goal is to help patients suffering from a terrible, debilitating disease. And imagine that a new drug comes along that promises to alleviate many of the worst symptoms of this disease, and that you launch a blitzkrieg campaign to persuade the relevant decision-makers to put the drug on the fast track for approval.

Now imagine that reports start filtering in from clinics where patients are being treated experimentally with the drug. The reports, at best, are mixed. At worst, they suggest that the drug may be truly harmful.

What do you do?

Do you redouble your efforts to get the drug approved? Mobilize the public to lobby elected officials by emphasizing the horrors of the disease and demanding that the government take action? Blame sensationalist media for playing up negative reports? Dismiss them as "temporary setbacks" or "inevitable side-effects"? Do you hold conferences in prestigious venues where only one side of the issue gets discussed? Plant stories in friendly media casting dissenting voices as corporate shills rather than patient-advocates? Cherry pick a couple of patients to act as spokesmen? And if all else fails, rely on that old standby, that the drug was never meant to be a "panacea"?

Or do you take a step back and revisit the research? Do you spend a little bit of the money you have on hand to make sure that you've got it right? Hire a few of the top specialists to conduct an independent evaluation? Make sure that you aren't breaking the physician's first commandment--to do no harm?
The idea here is that the "conflict mineral" campaign which was a part of the Dodd-Frank legislation is completely ineffective and in fact hurting the very people it was meant to protect. I'm not well-versed in the Congo, but Aronson has made a fairly persuasive case. Anyone else care to weigh in? *cough* Becca *cough*

1 comment:

  1. Wow, lots of pressure Ryan. I can't think about the DRC when I'm in Liberia, I'll have to let you know later, but a pretty intense analogy definitely.