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“Just Caring”: Can We Afford the Ethical and Economic Costs of Circumventing Cancer Drug Resistance?

Author(s): Leonard M. Fleck

Journal: Journal of Personalized Medicine
ISSN 2075-4426

Volume: 3;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 124;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: personalized medicine | targeted therapies | oncology | cancer | health care justice | rational democratic deliberation | just caring problem | health care rationing

Personalized medicine has been presented in public and professional contexts in excessively optimistic tones. In the area of cancer what has become clear is the extraordinary heterogeneity and resilience of tumors in the face of numerous targeted therapies. This is the problem of cancer drug resistance. I summarize this problem in the first part of this essay. I then place this problem in the context of the larger political economic problem of escalating health care costs in both the EU and the US. In turn, that needs to be placed within an ethical context: How should we fairly distribute access to needed health care for an enormous range of health care needs when we have only limited resources (money) to meet virtually unlimited health care needs (cancer and everything else)? This is the problem of health care rationing. It is inescapable as a moral problem and requires a just resolution. Ultimately that resolution must be forged through a process of rational democratic deliberation.
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