self treatment17 May 2005
The mutualist blog discusses the right of self-treatment, where he quotes Sheldon Richman:
Another way that the government interferes with the authentic right to health care is through the system of prescription medicines. Citizens of this theoretically free country may not use certain medicines without the written permission of an officer of the state. Yes, doctors are officers of the state by virtue of their having been deputized by the state to grant, or withhold, such permission. That was not true before 1914. Until then, adult citizens could enter a pharmacy and buy any drug they wished, from headache powders to opium. They needed no one’s permission. They were, in a phrase, pharmacologically free.
Speaking as someone that is plagued by chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps, and as the son of a medical professional (from whom I have inevitably gleaned some knowledge of diagnosis and medicine), I am often frustrated by the fact that when I have what is obviously a sinus infection or something similar, and I know that the inevitable remedy by any allopathic medical professional (after an expensive doctor’s visit and pointless CT scan that my health insurance will not fully cover, resulting in a hefty bill to me) will simply be a round of, say, prednisone and zithromax or augmentin or something. And yet, I can’t just get this for myself and spare myself the trouble (not to mention the 2-3 days of abject misery while I wait for the scheduled doctor’s visit).
The issue here of course is one of liberty as opposed to the mandate of the state in making a consensus decision for the common good to outlaw the exercise of a potentially dangerous liberty (which is not something I am wholesale opposed to). It’s one that I struggle with, because I personally think I am smart enough to self-medicate myself in a limited fashion, but I am not so confident I’d trust the rest of the populace to do so.