The scientific method-as applicable to the creation of wonder drugs.

Recently there was a HUGE firestorm in the comments of this blog. The long and short of it is a lady, who was vehemently against modern medicine, was trying to persuade a group of scientists, engineers, and a “rocket scientist” (thanks for the shout out Tyler!) that modern medicine was a giant conspiracy hell bent on keeping us sick and under their thumb. In one of the comments this lady laid down some heavy funk regarding the process of drug development, and I could not help myself. I had to tell her how wrong she was, in my own special way.
Reproduced here for you, in its entirety (with minor edits to prevent me from looking like a guy who can’t spell…) is my comment, and a pretty splendid explanation on how a drug is developed.

Here is the process—
A scientist discovers new compound that he thinks will give dudes hairier nipples. So he decides to test it, in his lab… with some pretty shiny equipment and lots of funding… assuming he can get the funding. I mean, who doesn’t want hairier nipples? Damn it, nobody wants hairy nipples! Maybe if he tweaked the amino acids a little bit, made a couple more carbon carbon bonds… Oh man, there it is! he just synthesized a drug that was first noted by some random botanist in the Congo. This drug is super sweet, it makes you have hairLESS nipple! Now that is a drug I can get behind. Ok. So what now…. Yep, funding. Dude goes up to scientists with bigger hats and says, ‘Hey, I see you have hairy nipples. Would you like to never shave them again?!’ and, as we all know, the big hatted scientist says ‘Hell to the Yizzy!’ so this guy is now funded.
So now he pumps out hairless nipple drugs and gives them to people. Wait. Hold on. I think I skipped a few steps. Oh, thats’s right. All of them.
The dude spends years, and millions-billions of dollars developing this drug. Testing is against cell cultures, and animals, seeing how this beautiful strand of amino acids can remove nipple hair. He, and a team of like at least a lot of scientists, work for years perfecting this thing so it maximizes the amount of nipple hair removed, while minimizing the negative reactions to the patient. This isn’t just a slap dash CIA dosing unsuspecting people with LSD approach to science (seriously, google it), this is Darwin and Tesla get together, High five Einstein and give Dalton a back rub science.
So the guy has completed cellular trials, or whatever they are called. He moves on to animal trials. Don’t worry, they only use ugly animals that no one cares about. Like voles. Or star-nosed moles. Those guys are ugly. They must not serve a purpose. Not like those cute bunnies. So anyway. Dude tests his juice on these furry things, and gets results. He publishes those results, or at least sends them up for peer review and FDA approval. THEN, if the FDA doesn’t question the extra anus developed in all the voles he can start with the human trials.
These people are all volunteers, and are generally paid for their services. So yea, guy says to one group.. Take this pill. It will make your nipple hair fall off. Then he says to another group, take this pill. It will make your nipple hair fall off. And then he sits back with his calipers and watches. Making notes about which group looses the most nipple hair. Then he throws a pizza party.
[Side note, it was pointed out in another comment that the double-blind method used for these studies requires an uninformed third-party to administer the drug. Which is probably true, But it was not a part of my original comment, just a nifty side note.]
After he has all the data from the control group (surprise! they were given a placebo) and the actual test group he does lots of math, builds a super sweet Power Point Presentation, takes a nap, eats a bagel, and then he presents his findings to the FDA. The FDA grills him like a leg of lamb with mint jelly. They tear his study apart. They look for holes. They look for falsified records (like that one doctor guy who said vaccines cause Autism. That guy falsified things all willy nilly), they look for any and every reason to shut him down.
Then, if he is lucky, he might get his drug made available to all of us with hairy nipples. At a premium, of course. He did just spend billions of dollars on research (and anus removal from small mammals) to develop this drug.
Also, if any of this makes you (Lady who hates medicine) think I am on your side, then you are reading it incorrectly.

I hope you enjoyed the read.

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