Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The other war on drugs

Last week's episode of Stossel addressed medical drugs and the role of the FDA. Another great show, but perhaps the most infuriating as it involved huge quality of life issues and even life and death. A few observations:
  • Listening to bureaucrats warn about the possible negative side effects of unapproved drugs for people suffering from terminal conditions would be laughable if it weren't so tragic.
  • Think about the incentives faced by the FDA: if a drug proves to have massive negative effects and it is approved, they will come under harsh criticism. If a drug works fine they receive few accolades. There is a clear bias towards dragging out drug trials as long as possible.
  • FDA testing imposes costs to society not only in terms of denying drugs to those who could immediately benefit, but also pile millions in expenses which must be made up for in the form of increased prices should the drugs ever be approved.
  • Even if a consensus cannot be reached on the need to abolish the FDA, why not make its imprimatur voluntary? Those of us who are more cautious can hold out for FDA approval while others can decide for themselves which substances they wish to put in their bodies.
  • I wonder how many of those who favor government's heavy hand in drug approval and regulation oppose interference in womens' reproductive rights and the Terry Schiavo case.
  • The government resources involved in drug regulation, both on the FDA and DEA side, represent a tremendous waste. Think how many violent crimes could be prevented if such resources were devoted to protecting citizens from other citizens instead of from themselves.
  • We'll know Republicans are serious about the threat posed by government power when they start taking up the drug issue with real vigor. It's incoherent to decry the state's vast power while simultaneously cheering on all the various facets of the drug war.
Here are parts two, three, four, five, six, and seven.

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