EQUITABLE LIFE MEMBERS
The Case of the High Tech Tigers
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2003 12:25 AM
The Case of the High Tech Tigers
People involved with Equitable Life take themselves too seriously. Other people have their troubles as well, and we would do well to think about such people from time to time. Here is a sad story about such a group of people, which should take your minds off ELAS and its questionable history.
Not so long ago, when molecular biology was really new, and the researchers were still trying to work out how genes made vital proteins and so forth, some medics hit on the idea of keeping people young by injecting them with DNA cultured from the top Hollywood stars – you know, the ones who seem to go on forever.
a scheme it had everything going for it, glamour, high-tech, royalties for
the stars, ‘eternal’ youth and really big fees for the ongoing
Half of Harley Street signed up at the first road-show despite the
swingeing subscriptions and extortionate franchise fees.
there were half a dozen different franchises, each peddling a slightly
different version of the treatments, but the one that got all the
publicity had incorporated a further inspired advance: -- they used radioactive
DNA, so that it would delete the patient’s own DNA and produce
results that were faster and more effective. All
the medical correspondents on press and TV were ecstatic about it, perhaps
because they were being offered a free course of treatment if enough
readers signed up.
people like you and me didn’t get a look in, the treatments were way out
of our league, and our private health insurance wouldn’t pay for them
A lot of people were sore about that at the time, but they went a
bit quiet about it later on for reasons which I will explain.
Anyway, that didn’t
matter because all the really important people in the country, by which I
mean politicians, business moguls, footballers, pop stars, transvestite
dress designers and senior civil servants, flocked to receive the new
treatments. And they
worked! Everyone remarked
how young Maggie looked, how the TV presenters literally glowed (in the
dark , actually), how much (nuclear) energy the politicians seemed to
have, so that they could keep multiple mistresses and still do their
onerous and self sacrificing jobs.
Of course, from the
medical point of view this was more than a business, it was a serious and
professional effort to advance the frontiers of human knowledge while
doing everything to protect the welfare of the patients.
Since there was a modicum of innovation involved, nothing to worry
anyone of course, the leaders of this essentially charitable affair
diverted 1% of their first Billion in profits to found a learned society The
Institute for Gene Extraction and Replacement, known within the trade
as The Tigers.
Now the next bit of
the story is not widely known and could be a bit upsetting to those of
tender disposition (or with a footballer in the family), but I have to
mention it because it is actually quite important.
You see, in all the creative excitement generated by the prospects
of all that money, and the scientific discoveries as well (naturally,
scarcely needs saying), someone forgot that there should be preliminary
tests on animals. You know
how it is, a natural mistake, everyone thought that someone else had done
it. [No madam, I don’t care if you are a member of the South Essex bunny
club, animal testing is necessary, when such important people are
Now obviously, all
the practitioners were too busy giving the treatments to spend much time
at The Tigers, so they hired in a bunch of medical nerds, you know those
sad people who don’t even realise that medicine is a business, to do the
necessaries like organising dinners and conferences and publishing a
totally unintelligible journal. One of the nerds had worked in a similar set-up, and before
the Council knew what was happening, he had a compulsory reporting system
up and running, focussing on what the trade calls ‘negative outcomes of
treatment’. In lay terms,
that translates into ‘death or permanent disablement’, but that just
shows how little the layman actually understands about the practice of
Now there had been
the odd rumour floating around about unexpected reactions and possible DNA
incompatibilities, but no one took any real notice until the first draft
of the negative outcomes report [the NOR] arrived from the aforesaid
nerds. Fortunately Doc
‘Shafter’ Schaeffer, the fastest man with a hypo in the business, was
in the chair when it arrived and he realised that extreme measures were
Using his political
connections (those that were still alive) he had the report and its
contents declared a State Secret, because of the potential harm to UK
exports if the news got out. The nerds were delighted to be connected with something so
important, and immediately encrypted all the files so that neither they
nor anyone else could make head or tail of them.
You see, what the NOR
showed, was that a small proportion of people are absolutely antagonistic
to anything to do with the glamour industries, and these people were
popping their clogs after the first few Tiger treatments.
Now it was a matter of intense regret that such people had passed
the selection tests, and the Tigers insisted on proper retribution for all
such mis-selection cases. The
discipline applied was perhaps over-harsh, involving as it did, a full
return of fees, but it saved a lot of hassle from the relatives of the
turned out that the treatments also selectively destroyed parts of the
immune system, particularly those protecting the subjects against
influenza and measles, but since there hadn’t been a serious influenza
epidemic for a good ten years this was deemed to be statistically unlikely
Of course, you
won’t have heard of any of this, because MI6 ‘took out’ anyone who
even looked as if they were going to reveal the State Secrets in question,
and the matter was very satisfactorily controlled for some years
subsequently, to the greater good of (nearly) all of us.
There was just one
fly in the ointment, though it was more like a nest of angry hornets than
a single fly: because the NOR was buried so far out of sight, they missed
the fact that the most popular treatment, R-DNA-R (radioactive
DNA replacement) had some slight additional drawbacks. The
main complication was that it progressively and irreversibly destroyed the
bone marrow which is the body’s factory for new blood, so that patients,
while apparently in the best of health were getting more and more anaemic.
After a few notable
personalities dropped dead with no blood in them at all, (explained away
as a side effect of Ecstasy addiction) the R-DNA-R practitioners realised
what was happening and convened a secret medical moot to come up with a
solution. Most of the Tigers
argued for stopping the R-DNA-R treatments completely, as they would be
bound to kill the patients eventually. Naturally, the R-DNA-R crowd
refused as it would kill a thriving business, and they could rely on MI6
to keep the lid on the situation by any necessary means.
Instead, they came up
with a superb and creative solution.
They told all their new patients that they would need a bit
of their blood for a short time, but it would all be replaced later in the
treatment, with a bonus supply in case of any need.
Then they transferred this blood to old patients who could no
longer make enough of their own. The
truly inspired part of this strategy was that they actually told the
patients what they were doing, but in such a jargon-ridden unintelligible
way that not one in a thousand suspected anything.
They were past masters at the Trust
me, I’m your doctor act.
Of course, it all had
to end in tears eventually, because, like a pyramid scheme it needed more
and more new patients to supply the blood to the old ones, and one day
there were simply no more candidates, even though the fees had been cut
time and again to increase the numbers.
Of course, the really important people were tipped off early and
got out while they still had some bone marrow left, but most of the rest
were given the choice between dying straightaway, or by inches.
Even MI6 couldn’t
hide the level of fatalities that ensued in parliament and the
entertainment industry, but the preservation of public confidence in the
medical profession made it imperative to conceal the true cause of the
plague. Hence the
‘discovery’ of Al Queida and its use of biological weapons against the
leading echelons of western society.
When the true story is told in future generations, MI6 and the CIA
will surely get the credit they deserve for this magnificent invention.
The trashing of
Afghanistan and Iraq was also a small price to pay for the survival of our
medical and pharmaceutical industries.
However, in the whole process there were naturally a lot of insider
arguments (mostly about division of profits it must be said), and word
leaked out that people would have been dying, even without Al Queida’s
help. Now this is where I
need your input:
How do I explain to these people or their bereaved relatives that they are heroes in the advance of medical knowledge, and that they volunteered for the treatment despite knowing the risks, and that there is absolutely no way in which their deaths can be held to be due to criminal negligence, manslaughter or even murder??
on a postcard please to:
DM, F-IGER etc etc
Institute for Gene Extraction and Replacement [TIGER]