Dallas Buyers Club: Bureaucracy vs. Life

Today I saw the movie Dallas Buyers Club and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The movie is focused on the early days of the AIDS pandemic in America and the struggle to find effective treatments.

Circa 1985, there was little a physician could do to forestall the inevitable death sentence imposed by the diagnosis of HIV infection. The movie portrays the real life efforts of Ron Woodruff to bring novel anti-HIV medications to the US, despite staunch opposition from the FDA.

Woodruff, expertly played by Matthew McConaughey (nominated for awards for this role), displays heroic intransigence in the face of a diagnosis of AIDS and the opposition of the FDA to his work. Throughout the film, it is the FDA that poses a greater threat to his life than the deadly virus because of their insistence that the drugs he employs, some of which were later FDA approved (e.g. ddC) were not safe and merited confiscation and destruction. Another drug Woodruff imported, Peptide T, may yet also find a place in the treatment of HIV.

Today, efficectiveHIV drugs are plentiful. This situation is due, in part, to the efforts of AIDS activists who would not allow bureaucracy to stifle their will to live. However, not all diseases share this status and many conditions could benefit from the efforts of a Woodruff-like character.

The tagline for the movie--"Dare to Live"--is a perfect encapsulation of Woodruff's heroism. We should all follow his example.