There exist different theories of law which, in their turn, imply different consequences and conclusions with regard to questionable issues. In the described case, the decisions whether the leave the drug on the market or to remove it might differ according to the chosen approach to law.
Utilitarian law focuses on the social consequences of the legislation (Schubert, 2011), and according to this law the main purpose of the government is to maximize public happiness, i.e. to make solutions which lead to greatest public good. From this point of view, the drug should be left on the market if it cures more people than harms, and should be removed if those for whom the drug does not work and people with adverse allergic reactions outweigh the number of cured people.
According to moral rights law, the rules of a legal system should necessarily be aligned with moral rights and principles of justice (Hess & Orthmann, 2008). Laws created by the society using moral and ethical considerations are viewed as legal by this approach. Moral rights of a person include the basic rights for life, freedom and protection for every human being. From this point of view, the drug should be removed because it might kill people who otherwise had a chance to save their life using other drugs.
Justice rule states that the law should naturally involve consequences of someone’s actions, and a decision can be considered lawful if it equally distributes harm and benefit among people, and these people are grouped in an impartial way (Carper & West & McKinsey, 2007). From this point of view, the drug should also be removed because it cures the patients in an unjust way.
However, in real life it is difficult to apply these theories of law directly. Cancer is one of the biggest disasters in the world, and most patients would like to use every possible chance to save their lives. At the same time, they should be fully aware of the effect of the drug. I can recommend to remove this drug from the free market, and to offer it to volunteers. These volunteers would have to sign a form of informed consent, and confirm that they are fully aware of the consequences. Also, the majority of adverse allergic reactions can be prevented by testing a small amount of the drug on the patient, and tracking the reactions within several days. People taking this drug have to be informed about all possible consequences, advantages and disadvantages. This approach combines the benefits of all three theories of law: it is directed to creating maximal social good, takes into account people’s rights to freedom of their solutions (which is evidently based on having access to truthful information), and provides justice for the volunteers who agree to take the drug.
Carper, D.L. & West, B.W. & McKinsey, J.A. (2007). Understanding the Law. Cengage Learning.
Hess, K.M. & Orthmann, C.H. (2008). Introduction to Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. Cengage Learning.
Schubert, F.A. (2011). Introduction to Law and the Legal System. Cengage Learning.