They've argued that Husten and others are trying to "muzzle" them. But that is not what he, or I, am arguing. Patient advocates are free to talk all they want. They should be encouraged to speak out because their voice plays an important role in informing the public of their perspective. But that perspective should not be confused with, nor crowd out, the more important scientific perspective.
My concern is not so much that scientists are going to be unduly influenced by patient activists: they usually know better. The real problem is the impact on both the public and on policymakers, those trusted with making the decisions that should be based more on detached science than emotionally appealing arguments. Because decisions that stray from science tend to waste taxpayer dollars and restrict consumer choice, good-government policy dictates we pay less attention to this type of patient advocacy.
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