Should We Ban Experimental Drugs? [#KeepAskingWhy]

Release Date
December 17, 2014


Healthcare Rights

Keep Asking Why is a new weekly video series (updating every Wednesday!) from Learn Liberty, where we take your questions, give them to our professors (no matter where they are in the world!), have them answer, and start a conversation with YOU.
What’s YOUR question? Comment below with hashtag #KeepAskingWhy and it could be answered next week!
Your question could be the next Learn Liberty video! Subscribe to our channel, make a comment, blow our minds. Comment below, or tweet/facebook us with hashtag #KeepAskingWhy
This week’s question comes from Twitter user ‘Unvanquished Sun’:
“Is it moral to limit experimental drugs/treatments in situations like ebola? Can it hamper responses and containment?”
What would your answer be? Do you agree? What’s your question? Let us know!
► Check out more in our Keep Asking Why series here:

Tim: Hey guys! My name is Tim Hedberg. I am coming to you live–not live, actually, but pre-recorded from the Learn Liberty studios, and I want to introduce to you a brand new show that we’re starting called Keep Asking Why where we want us to take your questions via social media, like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter– #KeepAskingWhy–present them to our professors, and start a really cool conversation, ‘cause that’s what it’s all about.
[opening music plays]
Tim: This week, taking your questions we have Mario, our very own in-house economist. Let’s see what he has to say.
Mario: Que tal, Youtube, bienvenidos! The question is, is it moral to limit experimental drugs or treatments in situations like Ebola? Can it hamper responses and containment?
Thank you for your question, Unvanquished Sun! That’s a very cool username, by the way.
As economists we think in terms of costs and benefits. And there is a powerful concept called trade-offs. When you gain something, most likely you gave up something. So you’re watching this video– potentially you’re gaining something. But you’re giving up something, as well– you’re giving up time. So what do we gain and what do we lose when we restrict access to experimental medicine?
What we gain, probably, is security. Safety. But we should not lose sight of what we’re giving up: saving the life of those that they are ill. This leads me to the second part of the question, which is the moral aspect of it.
Should we restrict access to that drug? In this case, you decide to watch this video, right? Nobody coerced you–presumably. However, in the case of using an experimental medicine, who decides? The doctors? Government? A bureaucrat? In this sense I don’t have particular expertise, I’m just an economist.
So when the government, a court, international organizations forbids you or prevents you from using experimental drugs, it’s taking your ability to consent away from your hands.
If that’s right? Is that wrong? It’s up to you to decide, and keep asking why.
Tim: Alright, guys, so that was our program! Keep asking why–short, sweet, to the point. If you want us to keep on doing this, you gotta ask your questions below. We’re gonna try to match them up with professors to keep on answering them, uh, but don’t just stop there, don’t just put your questions here and on Twitter, keep on asking questions, all the time, of your world. That’s how we learn, and that’s what we want, for you, so, uh, yeah! Keep asking why, and uh, I can’t wait to see you guys again next week.