“Widening the goal posts” in medicine

Andrew Gelman quotes reader Paul Alper on the tendency of diagnosis rates to increase over time:

1. Drug companies use a narrow patient base to prove a treatment effect

2.  The FDA approves the drug

3.  Drug companies and doctors slowly “widen the goalposts” of diagnosis and prescription

4.  Thousands of Americans are treated, despite a lack of evidence that their drugs can actually help people like them (people closer to the peak of the bell curve)

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