Fighting (the FDA) for your life
At first glance, it seems like the Dallas Buyers Club is about a man’s fight against AIDS. But it doesn’t take long to realize that isn’t what he was fighting at all.
The film tells the true story of a wild, womanizing, good ol’ boy from Texas who’s the last person who ever expected to have to stare down AIDS.
But he was probably even more surprised to realize the real fight for his life wouldn’t be against his disease. It would be facing the FDA.
Your freedom to choose…from their choices
For a fun-loving ladies man, a diagnosis of AIDS in 1985 could hardly be more shocking.
That’s what happened to Ron Woodroof, the live-wire at the center of The Dallas Buyers Club. When Ron is diagnosed, his doctor tells him he will live about 30 more days.
No. Not this guy. He refuses to go quietly. Ron turns himself into a medical researcher, searching the globe for options. When he finds treatments in other countries that weren’t approved in the U.S., he starts smuggling them in. Then, when other dying, desperate patients seek his help, he launches a buyers club…to get around the risk of selling illegal drugs. So he charges a membership fee, then supplies supplements and drugs for free to members.
Now I’m not condoning smuggling (though I am condoning ignoring the FDA). But keep in mind that in the 80’s, AIDS was an absolute death sentence. So if Woodroof and his club members wanted to try anything and everything to buy themselves a little more time, how, in good conscience, could anyone try to stop them?
Cue the FDA.
What the film shows us next is telling. We see the government targeting dying citizens — and wasting our tax dollars — to stop these people from doing whatever they must to save their own lives.
It’s simple: if the FDA hasn’t given it’s official stamp of approval, you don’t have a right to try something untested to try to save your very own life.
Seriously…what more fundamental right is there?
And, in fact, by taking his care into his own hands, Woodroof lived more than seven years after his diagnosis. More than 2500 extra days from what his doctor first predicted.
And yet the movie reviewers, sounding more like the mainstream newscasters, come out in defense of the FDA…claiming the film was unfair to the agency.
When The Tucson Weekly recently reviewed The Dallas Buyers Club, the headline read: “Big Bad FDA.”
The reviewer complains that the movie “paints the FDA in an incredibly negative light—slow to react, uncaring, incompetent, and in the pocket of Big Pharma.”
Negative light? Sounds like “incredibly accurate” light to me!
Look, The Dallas Buyers Club is a Hollywood product, so there’s plenty of gloss here. But we know the FDA really does pull this stuff. And it’s not a bygone era. Any cancer patient wanting to try Mistletoe knows that all too well.
“Big Bad FDA” Colin Boyd, The Tucson Weekly, 11/14/13, tucsonweekly.com