More race and medicine
I've posted twice on BiDil, a combination drug for heart failure approved only for blacks. As I noted previously, there is controversy about whether it really is only effective for blacks, as the pivotal trial didn't include a non-black control group.
A letter in the 6/25 BMJ by Jonathan Kahn clues us in as to why the maker has been so eager NOT to resolve this issue (for example with another trial looking for efficacy in non-black patients).
NitroMed, the corporate sponsor of the BiDil trials, holds at least two patents to BiDil. One is not race specific and covers the use of BiDil in the general population. This patent expires in 2007. The other is race specific; it does not expire until 2020. NitroMed therefore has a vested interest in framing BiDil as a race specific drug —regardless of the limitations imposed by the actual evidence.UPDATE: Kahn has a whole law review article about this, available in PDF form here, which seems to take as a premise that any race specific approach to medicine is wrong. It is a mix of medicine, statistics and social commentary which to me was not persuasive, but read it yourself if you are interested in the case against BiDil