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This is not FDA approved

August 4th, 2003 · No Comments

Note: I wrote this entry a few days ago but didn’t have time to polish it. I decided to post it today, since I thought it fit well with the theme of the day…

Took Abigail to the dermatologist today, actually to the doctor’s nurse practitioner, Vicky, for her plantar wart to be treated with medicine, an extract of the blister beetle. I can’t quite remember the brand name – just tried looking up some ideas in Google but nothing is appearing. The compound itself is called cantherone – here’s a link about warts and looks like it is also used for HIV treatments

This is the fifth time I’ve been at the office for someone in our family to get a dose of this medicine. For the first three times, I was the one receiving treatment for a wart I caught sometime last year, sometime after Europe and Elisabeth. This is Abigail’s second time, for a wart, that I fear she caught from me this spring.

So I feel familiar with this wonderous stuff – it is derived from a natural source, the blister beetle, and it works by painlessly forming blisters on the wart area – or wherever applied. It is much more powerful, at least for our family’s feet, than the Mediplast at the drug store. For Abigail, a little girl with sensitive skin, it has been great.

But in all these visits, I had never heard that this medicine came from Canada or that it wasn’t FDA approved. While looking for her bottle, Vicky said that they have to order it from Canada and it takes two weeks to arrive. The logic went something like this: this blister beetle extract is a common medicine that has existed for a while and couldn’t be patented. Since it couldn’t be patented, there could not be a trial in this country. And without a trial, the FDA can’t approve it. So it sounds like it will be perpertually Canadian. America must be home to many happy blister beetles!

Seriously though…. although I am vaguely aware of the FDA and some of the politics of approval, especially from my years doing research in a laboratory, I had not yet experienced a situation like this in my own life. It makes me wonder. I wonder why this simple medicine can’t be approved. And I wonder what other medicines for much more major needs are not approved – warts are nothing compared to cancer or other illnesses. I wonder how much of the FDA is protection and how much is politics. What is really happening: what is truth?

In today’s Times I noticed an article that vaccination rates are declining . Washington state is in the bottom 10. Coloring in the other states on a map would make an interesting picture. With the exception of Louisiana, they could all be considered “Western” states. I think it could be cultural – the “west” is known for pioneer spirit, independence and rebelling against/suspecting authority.

I am not surprised to hear that our state has one of the lower vaccinations rates. I have many friends on the island who have chosen not to immunize their children. I have gotten to know a woman whose newborn daughter died from the Hepatitis B vaccine. Her husband, Michael Belkin, has become a prominent opponent of vaccination. I have not met him yet but I’ve found here a site with his address to Congress, statistics, letters and other writings. Reading what he says also makes me wonder why Lyla had to die, and wonder what is the truth about vaccines.

This is all disillusioning and quite disturbing to me. As a child I enjoyed science. Forget philosophy – I would find truth through experiments. Science was stable – unlike my chaotic childhood – and it would birth absolute truth. I could stand on science. There truth was clear, not controversial. But as I grew older, studied at college, worked in a research lab, became a parent, I saw that science was not so simple, and that finding truth in the midst of research was murkier than I had imagined.

If only Truth was clear and easy to prove. Without politics or controversy, no fortunes or lives to be founded on it, none of what clouds our culture.

I’m not sure what I believe about science in this country, about the FDA or CDC, about vaccines or medicines. But I still believe in Truth. And Truth is not subject to anyone’s approval. That much I know.

Tags: warts