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The FDA Should Correct Its Guidance

Recent guidance from the FDA seems highly unethical. Let me start by posing a question: All things being equal, should someone’s race or ethnicity afford them preferential treatment for Covid medications?

Here’s an example…

Let’s say there were two people, both with Covid, both contracting it around the same time, both with the exact same symptoms and severity, both of the same age and gender, both of the exact same underlying health conditions, identical in EVERY way except one was white, while the other was “non-white” (a phrase that now seems common in medical questionnaires).  Let’s assume both were good candidates for a treatment like monoclonal antibodies or an oral antiviral drug medication.

If only one treatment was available locally, should the white patient be entitled to receive it by virtue of his skin color?

Or think about this: What if several treatment doses were available. Should the “non-white” patient be denied treatment, just in case more white patients happen to show up soon?

The obvious answer these questions is [expletive] NO! I realize these are hypotheticals, but unless race or ethnicity – by themselves – causes a patient to be at a higher risk, it would obviously be racist (and immoral) to give someone an advantage in the rationing of medical care based on his race or ethnicity.

Well, someone needs to tell that to the FDA and various states, because that’s exactly what they’re doing… only in reverse. They’re using race and ethnicity to prioritize “non-whites” for these potentially life-saving treatments.  Check this out:

Utah, for example, implemented a point system to prioritize Covid remedies. The more points you have, the closer you are to the front of the line. While white patients receive zero points by virtue of their skin color, “non-white” and Hispanic patients are given two points right off the bat. Meanwhile, if you’re a patient with congestive heart failure, hypertension, or other medical problem, that’s only worth one extra point.

Other states like New York and Minnesota have explicitly stated, “race and ethnicity alone, apart from other underlying health conditions, may be considered in determining eligibility.”

What in the world?! Isn’t that reverse racism?

All of this stems from recent guidance from the FDA, which directs medical providers to consider race and ethnicity as “medical conditions” that could “place individual patients at high risk” for developing severe Covid. Think about that: black skin or brown skin or any “non-white” skin, according to these people, could be a “medical condition.” (How progressive.)

We do know – through extensive research – that some races and ethnicities have higher rates of comorbidities like diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, etc. Yet proper medical treatment is specific to the individual. Higher rates of comorbidities within any race or ethnic group is a function of many complex factors, NONE of which is the literal shade of their skin color.

That’s why medical providers need to examine the INDIVIDUAL circumstances of each patient when determining treatment, especially when care must be rationed. This includes medical history, severity of illness, underlying conditions. It should NOT include factors that have no direct bearing on a patient’s prognosis.

Earlier this week, I joined Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC-9) in a letter to Janet Woodcock, the Acting Commissioner of the FDA, demanding her agency to “correct this guidance before it comes a permanent stain on the history of the agency tasked with promoting the health of the American people.”

Click here for a copy of that letter.