Ronald Reagan’s Quiet War on AIDS

In dealing with AIDS, Reagan did what he so often did well—he appointed people who shared his political convictions but could be relied on to make sound decisions based on apolitical facts and solid science. These appointees framed and announced such decisions in ways that would not result in politically polarizing efforts; In this case, efforts to fight a disease that disproportionately afflicted the gay community.

The Reagan FDA demonstrated that it is possible to find substantial numbers of doctors with the skills to prescribe drugs effectively, even when those drugs haven’t first been evaluated in lengthy FDA-choreographed trials. The tools of precision medicine greatly extend what doctors can do and learn in the course of treating patients. The databases that they build and the analytic engines that get developed to pluck information from the databases will guide the precise prescription of the drugs to future patients, helping to save lives for decades to come.

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