Problem

Medical treatment for non-medical conditions

Other Names:
Administering of medical drugs for non-medical purposes
Nature:
With few exceptions, once a drug or device is licensed for medical use, decisions about its use in individual cases are left to the doctor and patient, and to the marketplace. As medicine and biotechnology gain the ability to manipulate physical, and possibly mental, traits that are not obviously linked to disease, there are increasingly fuzzy borders between what constitutes a "disease" and a "successful" treatment.
Incidence:
A ten-year experimental programme is currently authorized in the USA aimed at testing whether human growth hormone (HGH) can increase the final height of otherwise healthy children using human growth hormone (HGH) who have adequate levels of HGH in their bloodstreams but nevertheless are very short. Most studies involving short children with adequate HGH have lasted less than two years, with many suggesting that hormone supplements simply shorten the time it takes to reach adult height.
Claim:
If shortness is a biologically-determined disease then what about shyness ? What about fat people ? What about people with different skin pigmentation ? What about young girls whose breast won't grow to the size that society desires ? We are moving onto a very, very dangerous journey that starts with "enhancement" and ends up with eugenics.
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
07.02.1999 – 00:00 CET