Stewart Baker

The Science is Settled: You’re Just Too Bone Stupid to Live

The Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, has studied the problem of how to distribute antibiotics in the event of an anthrax attack.  It’s a big problem, because, as the study confirms, the antibiotics have to be in people’s hands (mouths, really) within 48 hours of an attack.  And it may take the government almost that long to realize we’ve been attacked.  So, the scientists had a choice between recommending (1) a Big Government solution, in which the government stockpiles the antibiotics, flies them to the affected area when needed, and relies on the near-bankrupt Postal Service to get them to the right people in time, or (2) letting people have (or buy) Medkit packets of antibiotics to store at home for an emergency.

The study was funded by HHS, so you won’t be surprised to discover that the Institute recommended (1) a Big Government solution.  The main reason it gives is that you and the rest of the public are just too bone stupid to be trusted with antibiotics.  But to spare your feelings, the Institute puts it this way:  letting you have antibiotics raises “the potential for inappropriate use in routine settings (e.g., using the antibiotics to treat a cold) and the potential for widespread inappropriate use in response to a distant anthrax attack, a false alarm caused by a nonanthrax white-powder event, or some other public health emergency for which antibiotics are not indicated.”

But, really, “too bone stupid” is pretty much what they meant.

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