Monday, August 25, 2008

Abolish the FDA

While discussing regulation with a friend, I dug up this article posted at the Independent Institute. It is a brief but pretty complete treatment of the subject. The FDA (and regulation in general) causes more problems than it solves.
Many economists have studied the FDA. Their diagnosis is well expressed by Nobel-winning economist Milton Friedman: “The FDA has done enormous harm to the health of the American public by greatly increasing the costs of pharmaceutical research, thereby reducing the supply of new and effective drugs, and by delaying the approval of such drugs as survive the tortuous FDA process.”
A drug may be developed, tested, and found to save lives. But the FDA will prevent Eli Lilly, Rite Aid, and Kaiser Permanente from making the drug available until it has gone through the tortuous and expensive approval process. That might take ten years. It might take forever if the drug is for a rare disease (and hence a small market). Because voluntary society would accomplish anything that the FDA accomplishes, the harms of the FDA are unredeemed.

Economists from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman have had the unenviable task of pointing out that popular, well-intentioned cures are often worse than the disease. Economists seem nasty when they report that the FDA is bad medicine. People don’t like to hear that they have bought into quackery. In collective decision-making, quackery often prevails over sense.
I recommend reading the whole thing. It is excellent.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it would be possible to sell drugs not approved by the FDA as poisons? They're legal (e.g., weed and pest control agents), probably less regulated, and what someone does with a "poison" in the privacy of their home or doctor's office is their business.