Friday, September 02, 2005

Our 'No Risk' Mentality Demands the Impossible

Wall Street Journal
September 2, 2005

Our 'No Risk' Mentality Demands the Impossible

In response to your Aug. 22 editorial "Vioxx Verdict":
I am horrified at the implications of the Vioxx decision. During a 23-year practice as a surgeon, I often had to discuss risks vs. benefits with patients. The most important factor I emphasized was that benefits outweigh risks.

It seems to me that the defense was flawed in the Merck trial. The defense should have been based on the fact that given the evident and trumpeted risks associated with these anti-inflammatory drugs, the slightly increased, and at that point theoretical, risk of a heart attack was unlikely to dissuade anyone willing to accept those more evident serious complications from taking the drug given the demonstrated benefits.

A society that has come to demand a complete absence of risk will cease to enjoy many of the blessings of innovation and progress. Unfortunately, society, with the legal profession in the lead, has come to demand the impossible.

Martin A. Thiel, M.D.
Williamsburg, Va.


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