New ‘Artificial Womb’ Could Save Frail Babies — If Regulators Allow It
Creativity is boundless, and so is the power free and unrestricted markets have to turn needs into accessible goods and services.
Scientists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have, for the first time ever, created an “artificial womb” that could someday be used to help babies that are born very prematurely.
While initial tests have only involved fetal lambs, fetal surgeon Alan Flake says they have been “extremely successful in replacing the conditions in the womb in our lamb model.” If this experiment is successful and they are able to develop a version that would be fit for human use, countless parents across America — and the world — would then have the choice of saving their children from succumbing to certain conditions if they are, for some reason, unable to remain in their mothers’ wombs until the end of their term.
In the study published in the Nature Communications journal, scientists were able to see very premature fetuses develop normally for a month.
“They’ve had normal growth. They’ve had normal lung maturation. They’ve had normal brain maturation. They’ve had normal development in every way that we can measure it,” the surgeon added.
With the goal of testing the technology on very premature human babies within 3 to 5 years, one can only hope bureaucracy doesn’t stand in the way.
According to Medscape, the average length of time a new drug takes to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is 12 years. Developers are also estimated to spend $800 million in the process. With this in mind, Medscape adds, “the regulatory process for medical devices is much shorter and, generally, less stringent and costly.” Still, estimations are that the time it takes to have a medical device approved for market distribution is usually 3 to 7 years.
If this technology is ready to be used in humans within the next 5 years, then this technology might only be available to the overall public in over a decade. With the added costs related to the regulatory process, we may also expect that access to the life-saving device might also be restricted.
All in all, if the red tape surrounding life-saving treatments and devices were finally cut for good, the medical field would be much more competitive and, as a result, devices and treatments would be readily available to those in need.
Those who oppose free markets, as you can see, are thus missing out on how they could help save lives.