But what caught my eye and generated my pre-caffeine ire was in the opening sentence, terminology used in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics, words that I admit to have even uttered myself:
WASHINGTON–The Food and Drug Administration Friday approved a new type of drug by Roche Holding AG’s Genentech unit to treat rheumatoid arthritis in patients who have failed other treatments. [emphasis mine]
I know that we use that phrase because it is seems less cumbersome than saying, “in patients whose disease has not responded to existing drugs.”
But saying that the patient failed the treatment makes it seems that the patient somehow bears responsibility for the lack of their disease to respond to the tools we currently have available. Yes, yes, I know – disease is essentially a patient’s own pathophysiology, where their own homeostatic mechanisms are awry or respond inappropriately to environmental changes or invading organisms.
But jeez, have you ever thought what it sounds like to a patient to hear that they failed the therapy? Could we possibly take any less responsibility for our failure to treat disease? Even if physicians want to use the word “fail” couldn’t they at least shift the blame to us basic scientists who’ve failed to come up with an alternative drug?