Kill the FDA (Before It Kills Again!): Dallas Buyers Club


If you haven't seen The Dallas Buyers Club, which took home three Oscars last Sunday, you should. It's the most flat-out libertarian movie since Ghostbusters and one of the best message movies I can think of (of course, like all quality message movies, it's first and foremost a powerful piece of art).

Specifically, it shines a harsh light on the Food and Drug Administration's obstructionist role in approving life-saving medicines.

From my Daily Beast column on the topic:

During a good chunk of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, the federal government, in the guise of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) did just about everything it could to keep dying patients and their caregivers from responding quickly and effectively to terminal illness. It was only after massive, coordinated pressure applied by gay-rights groups that the FDA made partial and selective exceptions to its lengthy and widely criticized drug-approval processes.

Worse still, the FDA continues to choke down the supply of life-saving and life-enhancing drugs that will everyone agrees will play a massive role not just in reducing future health care costs but in improving the quality of all our lives (in 2000, Columbia University's economist Frank Lichtenberg estimated that"increased drug approvals and health expenditure per person jointly explain just about 100 percent" of the seven-year increase in life expectancy at birth between 1960 and 1997). Little wonder, then, that the movie is "the libertarian favorite of the year," in the words of film critic Kyle Smith….

…the FDA's often arbitrary but always time-intensive requirements have created a system in which new drugs take somewhere around 10 to 15 years to come to market, at a typical cost of $800 million or more. As my Reason colleague Ronald Bailey has written, this means the FDA's caution "may be killing more people than it saves." How's that? "If it takes the FDA ten years to approve a drug that saves 20,000 lives per year that means that 200,000 people died in the meantime."

More, including lots of links to Reason.com stories, here.

Related in Reason: Peter Huber (interviewed here) lays out how to overcome "20th-century regulations to allow 21st-century cures."