Public Health

Abolish the FDA

The role of the state is to protect rights and guard against fraud, not to prevent people from making risky choices.

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Last year, hashtag activists were ready to #AbolishICE, in part over the deaths of about 20 immigrants in custody in 2020. Protesters called on the government to "defund the police" over more than 1,000 killings by law enforcement during the same period. Those deaths are tragic, and many could have been prevented with better policy. But they pale in comparison to the blood on the hands of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the last 12 months.

Faced with the challenge of COVID-19, the FDA screwed up on nearly every level. When the agency did do something right, it was almost always by making exceptions to its normal policies and procedures.

In this month's cover story, Ronald Bailey describes some specific targeted changes at the FDA and other bureaucracies that could make a huge difference, as well as some crucial moments when the FDA managed—with great effort—to get out of its own way. This incremental approach to reform is both admirable and realistic. To do as Bailey suggests could help ensure that COVID-19 is our last true pandemic.

But sometimes enough is enough. There was a time when Republicans used to offer up lists of government agencies or cabinet departments they would abolish as part of the presidential primary process—say, the Department of Education or the Federal Reserve. The winner never did abolish anything, of course. But after the year we've just been through, nothing should be clearer than the need to eliminate an enormous bureaucracy whose documented failures resulted in the preventable deaths of tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of people.

The FDA screwed up in prohibiting researchers from testing affected populations in the early days of 2020, when the virus might have been better contained upon arrival in the United States. It screwed up in refusing to lift requirements for mask manufacturers and by declining to allow good substitutes for masks in short supply. It screwed up by collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect a monopoly on testing tools that ended in a disastrous shortage. FDA staffers tasked with approving both treatments and vaccines screwed up by delaying meetings and taking days off as Americans were dying in unprecedented numbers of a disease for which the agency had potential solutions. At press time, the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was widely available in many other nations, remained unapproved in the U.S., for reasons that are opaque to Americans desperate to resume normal lives.

But this is nothing new. The FDA started screwing up the COVID crisis long before the first bite of bat soup, by suppressing innovation and experimentation that could have better positioned scientists and researchers to prevent the outbreak from becoming a pandemic.

The agency is large, with a 2021 budget of $6 billion and the equivalent of about 18,000 full time staff. But that's not the real cost of the FDA. Nobelist Milton Friedman got it right when he said: "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."

The FDA is being asked to do an impossible, immoral task—and it is doing it badly. Ordinarily, people tend to discover this one at a time, in moments of personal crisis. A patient with a rare cancer is heartbroken to find out a potential treatment is not approved for use in the United States. A pharmacist who would like to offer a customer suffering from side effects an alternate drug is unable to do so. An entrepreneur who has an idea for a new testing tool gets discouraged when she looks into the approvals she would have to obtain before going to market. People seeking to make decisions about their own bodies that would harm no one else are forbidden from doing so, sometimes literally condemning them to death.

This year, Americans experienced that despair and frustration in unison. As our friends and neighbors sickened and died, the FDA equivocated, procrastinated, and played hot potato with tough decisions, just as it has done with minimal consequences to the agency for decades.

The FDA distorts incentives for pharmaceutical companies in ways that can be hard to see because they have been in place for so long. Much as middle schoolers suffer when their instructor "teaches to the test" at the expense of holistic understanding, customers and patients suffer when drug makers focus on jumping through the FDA's hoops rather than figuring out the best uses for new compounds or the best way to help their customers.

Even now, with three COVID vaccines approved and on the U.S. market, health professionals are unable to pivot to offering a single dose to twice as many people, despite clear evidence that one shot can be highly effective. Why? Because the FDA approval process is not built to handle that kind of change mid-stride. And methods that would have allowed researchers to formally evaluate the efficacy of a single shot were also not allowed pre-release.

The current system is this: The FDA approves new pharmaceuticals as both safe and effective, in most cases after a laborious and expensive process of many years and many millions of dollars. Pharmaceuticals are only approved for certain uses, but physicians are allowed to use them off-label, which immediately undermines the case for the time-consuming efficacy part of the approval. Sometimes, even though drugs have been approved as safe, they are discovered to be harmful after the fact and have to be withdrawn.

When a disease is a really big deal, as with AIDS or COVID-19, the FDA makes exceptions—especially if political pressure comes to bear. The agency grants emergency use authorizations or convenes special committees. When there's a sob story, a patient is occasionally allowed the "right to try" a treatment earlier than usual. While more exceptions made more often would be an improvement on the status quo, the need for these exceptions and the extremely high stakes for obtaining them shows that there is something deeply wrong with the underlying process.

Whenever a government agency fails in its mission, there are calls for more funding, more authority, more high-quality leadership. But in this case, there is little reason to believe those things will help; the agency's mission was flawed from the beginning.

In its 115 years of existence, the FDA has certainly nabbed quacks and prevented harmful drugs from coming to market. The agency has been dining out for decades on the story of how it refused to approve thalidomide for sale in the United States, for instance. With all due respect to that incredible catch, this is like NASA boasting about Tang and Velcro. It's not that the FDA has never done anything good; it's that it hasn't done enough to justify the costs.

Sometimes the costs are clear, as they have been this year in the struggle to get access to vaccines and treatments, or as they have been to the sufferers of chronic or terminal illnesses for much longer. Other times the stakes are low for any individual patient but add up. Thousands, maybe millions, of men with heart trouble take a low dose of aspirin every day to reduce the risk of myocardial occlusion. But for many years after that connection was established, the FDA prohibited aspirin manufacturers from advertising it. That single, seemingly minor restriction contributed to the deaths of many, many thousands of Americans.

Alternatives to regulation can also be hard to envision. But the role of the state, if it has one at all, is to protect rights and guard against fraud, not to prevent people from making risky choices. There are many nonstate mechanisms to ensure a safe and effective drug supply. The courts have a role to play here, one that was stunted when the FDA usurped their function in determining where harm or fraud has occurred. Technology to review consumer products is more robust and easier to use than ever, and there are plenty of other industries where private institutions verify and communicate with the public effectively about quality and safety. Without government-granted monopolies and barriers to entry, drugs would proliferate and prices would almost certainly fall, resolving many issues of access.

At the time of this writing, COVID case counts and deaths were finally falling. But there are still 2,000 Americans dying each day. Not every one of these deaths can be laid at the agency's door, but each day of delay is one more argument for abolishing the FDA.

NEXT: Police Kill Suspect Who Rammed Vehicle Into U.S. Capitol Barricade: 1 Officer Dead, 1 Wounded

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  1. And the DEA, departments of education, energy, commerce, HHS, ATF, ‘homeland security and on and on.

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    1. Indeed. For a way to while away a few hours while under house arrest, place a list of the current cabinet level organizations beside the US Constitution and try to match up each organization with an authorization in the constitution.
      For extra credit, calculate the savings if the unmatched departments were eliminated completely.

      1. It’s fantastic that you’re a rabid supporter of the US Post Office, one of the few agencies authorized by the US Constitution. Bravo, sir!

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    2. And with so many laws already on the books, do we really need a full time legislature?

      1. And with so many guns freely available, do we really need a full time police department? It’s great to see that you support the defund the police movement.

        1. False equivalence

      2. I always thought, since most legislatures have two chambers, one of the chambers should have only the power to repeal or expire laws.

        1. And let the other chamber make new laws with a simple majority?

          1. Readers of “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” recall Heinlein’s design of a legislature that requires 2/3 to pass laws, but a simple majority to repeal. I’ve never seen a better proposal. A limit on the wordiness of laws–none larger than The Declaration or The Constitution would also eliminate package-dealing by exposing it to the light of day. The Constitution contains 4,543 words, and is the shortest in this Hemisphere. Per-capita GDP shrinks as the wordiness of constitutions increases. No law need be any larger.

            1. And if we could somehow require legislators to read an entire bill before voting on it. Not sure how we could make sure they REALLY read it, though.

              1. Tests afterwards, anyone who voted yes and can’t pass gets impeached for dereliction of duty.

              2. The best way to make sure they read it is to have, randomly, the clause inserted that defunds politicians pay for the remainder of the year. At least they would skim read it, which is Berger than they currently do

            2. Or just prohibit government from initiating force.

          2. Yes. Bicameral legislatures are a weird thing, anyway, if both are popularly elected.

            Makes more sense if one chamber represents the states, or the lords, or something. Which isn’t the case with bicameral legislatures in the U.S.

            1. It was originally.

        2. The problem is too many laws why make it easier to make new laws?

          Here’s a better idea. Supermajority in both houses to create new laws or modify existing laws. Simple majority to repeal laws.

          1. Sounds good.

          2. Also, it should be a felony offense with a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole for a sitting member of congress to utter the words “Something must be done”.

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  2. It’s not that the FDA has never done anything good; it’s that it hasn’t done enough to justify the costs.

    If it saves one life, and besides, if it wasn’t for government how would the roads get built? Nobody ever looks at the secondary costs, nobody does the cost/benefit analysis – because the government’s paying for it and therefore it’s free.

    1. But, as we learned yesterday, roads are racist! So it’s good if there’s nobody building them.

    2. Can’t tell if serious.

  3. Another problematic behavior from FDA is squelching free speech. For example, medical school professors routinely do clinical studies testing old drugs for potential new uses. If a professor finds, e.g., that metformin (a diabetes drug) reduces heart attack risk even in people who don’t have diabetes, the professor may write an article describing their research and publish it in e.g., The New England Journal of Medicine. NEJM can sell that article to whomever. Physicians can read that article. And, as trained scientists, can decide how much stock to put in it. Yet if a metformin manufacturer wants to tell physicians about that article, FDA’s scolds may come knocking and complain that the manufacturer cannot do this unless and until the manufacturer first pays FDA a hefty fee to vet the article.

    FDA here tacitly takes the position that physicians lack the brainpower to understand NEJM, so FDA must think for them. Yet anyone who’s shared a dorm room with a pre-med will readily see the absurdity of FDA’s “physicians lack brainpower” assumption.

    1. It’s not FDA taking that position. It’s Congress, with determinations of “intended use” of an article that were originally judicial and are now incorporated into regulations. FDA just enforces what it’s told to.

      1. Well, then that’s even worse. “Congress shall make no law”, etc.

    2. This harks back to the patent medicine advertisers’ contract stipulating that if the publication accepting the ads starts screaming for coercive prohibition in its editorials, the year-long contract is void and ads pulled. Colliers, Ladies Home Journal and Bert Hoover’s buddy Mark Sullivan raged against this voluntary agreement as if the drug companies were chopping the fingers off of typists. If the arguments against drugs weren’t superstitious pseudoscience of the sort now used to ban energy, no men with guns would be needed.

  4. The Dept of Education, first formed in 1867, was established as a centralized source of information on best-practices re education by Pres. Andrew Johnson. Even then, it was demoted from a cabinet-level dept within a year, for fears it would have to much power over local schools. Gee. Imagine that.

    The FDA, at about 1/100th it’s current size, could still be valuable (maybe!) in such an advisory/informational capacity re drugs, etc. But I don’t think a single politician anywhere has the guts to propose it.

    1. Nixon’s anti-libertarian IRS subsidies to entrenched looter parties sees to that!

    2. Not as one step, no, but I think politicians could be convinced to support allowing individual states to authorize drugs within their borders. Republicans are reflexively supportive of state’s rights and Democrats would quickly realize this would legalize marijuana within their states.

      It is generally inconvenient to have 50 different regulatory schemes, but it is simply an additional approval mechanism. Drug manufacturers would have incentive to go through the FDA as it is only one regulatory body to deal with, but there exists an ‘out’ for when the FDA becomes too much of a barrier.

  5. The FDA is being asked to do an impossible, immoral task—and it is doing it badly.

    The FDA is doing a crappy job. It is likely taken over by both bureaucratic self-interest and big pharma. Has been for years. That’s what demonstrates the need for massive organizational overhaul. Not easy at all. But some useless petulant ignorance about history of those things that brought the FDA into existence – an ignorance that is demonstrably corrupted – is far worse.

    The FDA distorts incentives for pharmaceutical companies in ways that can be hard to see because they have been in place for so long.

    It’s not the FDA that distorts those incentives. The IP system for chemicals that we adopted from UK and then adapted to pharmas is what distorts those incentives.

    What made American pharma great was a) stealing all the existing German pharma inventions and discoveries during World War 1 and b)using the German IP model to quickly bring penicillin to market during WW2 and to bring most antibiotics into existence in the decade or so after that. And then stifling and killing off that IP model worldwide in the 70’s.

    And yet somehow we completely ignore that that German IP model – specifically re chemicals – is precisely what made Germany the industrial success re chemicals.

    When you patent discovery as well as invention – as we currently do – you distort and corrupt incentives. When you limit patents to invention – you have a chance to actually unleash innovation.

    1. Gee, arm-waving again, absent anything but assertions! What a surprise!
      But we get a bonus!
      “…And then stifling and killing off that IP model worldwide in the 70’s. ..”
      You mean when the rest of the world decided the US model was a good idea, or did ‘Big Pharm’ send out the US marines to force other countries to adopt the US model?
      When your mommy said you were smart, she lied.

    2. Seems to me discovery is as valuable to progress as invention, and costs about the same amount, so why not apply the same patent rules to it?

      What I hope is going on regarding genetic sequences is that they establish utility only by reduction to practice. After that I don’t care whether it’s patented as a composition of matter or for its method of use, because genetic sequences are almost always going to have their method of use limited by their composition.

      1. Seems to me discovery is as valuable to progress as invention, and costs about the same amount, so why not apply the same patent rules to it?

        Henry George (who I generally agree with) and Ayn Rand (who I generally don’t) both argued why not:

        Henry George – Discovery can give no right of ownership, for whatever is discovered must have been already here to be discovered. If a man makes a wheelbarrow, or a book, or a picture, he has a moral right to that particular wheelbarrow, or book, or picture, but no right to ask that others be prevented from making similar things. Such a prohibition, though given for the purpose of stimulating discovery and invention, really in the long run operates as a check upon them.

        Ayn Rand – A scientific or philosophical discovery, which identifies a law of nature, a principle or a fact of reality not previously known, cannot be the exclusive property of the discoverer because: (a) he did not create it, and (b) if he cares to make his discovery public, claiming it to be true, he cannot demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods except by his permission.

        The way it applies re pharma – say penicillin. Penicillin, the chemical/mold, is a discovery. As is the discovery that it inhibits bacterial growth. Under the German IP system, neither could be patented. Under the British IP system they could be patented but Alexander Fleming chose not to patent them so effectively it incentivizes like the German system.

        The invention related to the synthesizing of the production of penicillin. Which could be patented under all IP systems – and was. Ames (US govt) fermenting system was patented and freely licensed to everyone as an incentive to ramp up production of penicillin. Pfizer also invented and patented a fermenting system. Both those fermenting systems were used to ramp up penicillin production. The result was a massive ramp up in production (from maybe 100 doses in 1942 to over a billion in 1945). And every other antibiotic was discovered in the next few years as a result of the fermenter being freely licensed (which needn’t have happened).

        1. “…The way it applies re pharma – say penicillin. Penicillin, the chemical/mold, is a discovery. As is the discovery that it inhibits bacterial growth. Under the German IP system, neither could be patented. Under the British IP system they could be patented but Alexander Fleming chose not to patent them so effectively it incentivizes like the German system…”

          First, you infer that, as a “discovery”, it is not worthy of protection, which is prima facie bullshit.
          To take an obvious example, Kettering “discovered” that using an electrical motor to start and automotive engine was workable in that the motor did not run long enough to overheat; he patented the starter.
          And then, you arm-wave off the costs of “discovery”, and the resultant risk/return via the US patent system; who do you think would risk the capital to “discover” penicillin if there were no protections from others immediately offering it, absent the costs of that “discovery”?
          Finally, you’ve yet to provide any evidence that this claim:
          “…And then stifling and killing off that IP model worldwide in the 70’s. ..”
          is anything other than bullshit.
          Got a cite?

      2. And actually discovery is incentivized very differently than invention – in the realm of chemical/pharm or anything where the synthesized manufacture is process based.

        If you want to incentivize discovery – knowledge – then use prizes, recognition, etc. If you want to incentivize invention in production of chem/pharm/etc, then you patent a particular process and give that inventor exclusive ownership of that process for some period of time. They maximize the value of that invention by running everything they can through that synthesizing process – in this case, all first generation antibiotics. And since most of these processes are not unique, someone else can invent a different synthesizing process to get to the same end point – patent that – and run everything they can through their process as well.

        Patent the chemical itself and you actually destroy invention. Because it eliminates the one known viable product that could be produced by an alternative process. It all becomes a patent claim staking game with lawyers and other beak-wetters.

        1. “If you want to incentivize discovery – knowledge – then use prizes, recognition, etc….”

          You’re a laugh riot! Yep, some company will spend millions in order to get a ‘prize’.
          Do you have any idea of what experimental lab time costs? What color is that sun in the morning?

          “..Patent the chemical itself and you actually destroy invention. Because it eliminates the one known viable product that could be produced by an alternative process…”
          Bullshit.

  6. Alternatives to regulation can also be hard to envision.

    You would have saved your readers a lot of time if you had chosen to lead with this. It is not hard to take potshots at government bureaucracies. It is harder, and more useful, to come up with realistic, practical alternatives. You offer exactly nothing in this respect, apart from some hand waving at tech. What an imbecilic piece this turns out to be.

    Here’s the deal: when I buy a COVID diagnostic test, I want to be sure that it’s testing for COVID, not some other coronavirus. I want to be sure that it is highly accurate. I want to be sure that the method for administering the test is clear and will result in an accurate result. I want to know what the test has been proven to show. So how do I get that, without some central bureaucracy, staffed by experts, evaluating a manufacturer’s claims?

    Do I do some crack research on Facebook? Do I have to research each test individually, using resources I’ve found online whose ultimate progeny I can’t independently verify? Do I rely on some crowdsourced app where some smattering of people report on their own experience? Do I subscribe to some medical device certification service that hires its own experts to do exactly the same work that the FDA is supposed to be doing? What, exactly?

    I am not really sure what libertarian utopia some Reason editors have in mind, where we’re all free from “immoral” government interference but suddenly are all having to become medical researchers, food and product safety experts, consumer protection advocates, and so on, just to live our lives without killing ourselves or our family with some banal choice we’ve made. If you don’t have a solution to the problem of having to essentially internalize every government function into our own personal lives and time, then you’re not participating in a serious discussion.

    1. Agree 100% with your assessment of the article and the tendency of the ‘ideology’ as well.

    2. 40 and more years ago article symposia and whatnot came out in books, some of which were published by the Reason Foundation, others by I forgot who, on the subject of alternatives to regulation. Unfortunately they were pre-Internet, which means you either hope it’s been scanned or directly posted electronically, or find them in a library; but more importantly, their proposals and examples have been partly obsoleted by the nets. In some cases you can easily imagine their extrapolation to the net age, in other cases you’d have to figure out how to take advantage of that interconnectivity.

    3. Just to give one example, in many cases standards arrived at by voluntary standards-setting organizations like the NFPA, ASTM, UL, and AOAC get incorporated into liability insurance. Of course they tend to become de facto monopolies and wind up with government agencies on their boards, and write their findings into regulations, but their overall setup in principle is voluntary and nonexclusive. In the case of drugs and allied medical supplies, the examples are USP, NF, and, believe it or not, the HPCUS.

      1. Or the hospital certifying JCAHO. In theory it is a private non profit but you can’t collect Medicare or Medicaid without it which means you effectively can’t be a hospital.

      2. USP is the perfect example for pharma. It was created in 1820. Has become a de facto arm of regulation – which is fine. But the ‘patent’ side of pharma has more recently deliberately undermined that – by FDA/etc – because USP only works on the generic side of patents expiring and increasingly patents are being gamed – by FDA and pharma in collusion – to never expire.

      3. Roberta’s example is spelled out in detail by Mark Twain. Twain describes the antebellum riverboat pilots’ association with its training, testing and charts. Underwriters found out about it and refused to insure vessels with unqualified pilots. No laws, no guns, no wars went into the change.

        1. So what. That has nothing to do with pharma. US Pharmacopeia (now USP) was created in 1820 as a private group of doctors setting standards for how medicines would be formulated. But what was proven is that a)sometimes there is no recourse for consumers v producers and b)if it is more profitable for producers to cheat/lie/etc, then they will and c)information asymmetry is an actual thing and you can’t just wish it away.

          It would be wonderful if a voluntary standards setting org had worked for pharma. But it pretty obviously didn’t – and it failed precisely because mandates on producers with government serving as the enforcer on behalf of consumers was the ONLY way producers could actually be held accountable.

          1. “So what. That has nothing to do with pharma…”

            Cherry-pick much? Why, you certainly do!

    4. Simon has nailed it. This piece is one big pile of mangu uselessness. Far more useless than the FDA has ever been or ever could be. When taking risks, the risk taker needs information. The only information the market provides is biased advertising crafted in pursuit of profit. Some entity has to be attempting to provide information for it’s own sake. It will most often fail, as predictions of the future often do, but the attempt is still worthwhile. Prevention has a price, it isn’t free of risk itself, and it can’t be done by oneself. Individualism doesn’t work for necessarily collective problems.

      1. This was the exact reasoning Harvey Washington Wiley used to get altruist politicians create the armed meddling agency that took less than a year to cause the Panic of 1907. Nearly all addictive drug problems were foreigners exploiting foreigners and warring over the markets. Now, thanks to altruist meddling and officious peddling of superstition and pseudoscience thru the violence of laws and venal politicians, Americans stand where Chinamen were in 1840.

        1. Bullshit.

          And the Panic of 1907 was the consequence of the 1906 SF earthquake. The insurers of that were German and British. When the claims started to be processed and sent, the resulting gold flows were unexpected and resulted in spikes in interest rates. Which resulted in loans being defaulted on and called in — which is where financial/banking crises start.

          1. Got a cite for that claim? You’ve yet to offer one.

            1. Just one more of your continual lies about everything you utter.

              From the Natl Bureau of Economic Research – Real Shock, Monetary Aftershock: The San Francisco Earthquake and the Panic of 1907. There’s plenty of other sources – including a dozen or so at the different Feds. Not that you know how to read. Or will ever admit that I cited this you infected boil on a bison’s butt.

              1. Amazing!
                First claim you’ve ever backed with documentation!
                Congratulations!

      2. “…Prevention has a price, it isn’t free of risk itself, and it can’t be done by oneself. Individualism doesn’t work for necessarily collective problems…”

        The failed governmental ‘solutions’ don’t work.
        Fuck off slaver

      3. I disagree. There are vaccines right now that are safe enough for my 12 and 14 year old. I would get them those vaccines today if they were authorized for ages 12 to 16, but they are not. None of them. So supposedly it is is safer to do nothing and let my kids get Covid as they go back to school. Huh?

    5. Ah, the fascist argument from ignorance requiring men with guns to do “our” thinking for “us.” Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz in all its Common Good before Individual Rights appeals to the initiation of deadly force. These are the same creeps that only allow bootlickers to practice chemistry after testifying to politicians that merry-Jew-wanna “could” cause children to be born with five eyes and tentacles.

    6. “…You would have saved your readers a lot of time if you had chosen to lead with this. It is not hard to take potshots at government bureaucracies. It is harder, and more useful, to come up with realistic, practical alternatives…”

      Typical lefty bullshit:
      ‘You can’t possibly develop schools better than the government can (since the government has already taken your money to do so and wasted it on a bunch of bureaucrats)’
      Did I get that right, Simon, or are you still stuck in your erotic fantasy?
      BTW, the rest of your post is but far more of a steaming pile of lefty shit. Example:
      “…Do I do some crack research on Facebook?..”
      Need a hand with that strawman, lefty shit? JFree is more than willing to help so long as you pitch in on his/hers.
      The both of you? Fuck off and die.

    7. You understand that the fda does no medical or drug research. They only check tk make sure all of the paperwork is correct

  7. The way progressives look at it — and for the past century anybody who counts has been at least partly progressive — these decisions should be made exclusively by the top experts. And there’s a societal obligation to install the top experts in that position, and since for any such position the top expert must exist, it would be immoral to deliberately leave it to anybody but the top expert even though the progressive would acknowledge that the top expert is fantastically unlikely to be in the position at any time. That is, as long as the ideal is possible, no matter how unlikely, it must be striven for, and anything that gets us to less than that ideal, no matter whether on average it produces much better results than the one who is in fact the one dictating the decision to all, is immoral. It’s pretty much the same principle that most monotheistic religions are based on.

  8. Is the FDA one of the 300 or so government agencies with police powers? If so then it’s not going away.

    1. Even if it doesn’t have direct police powers, it gets decide which drug dealers the DEA leaves alone and which drug dealers get their door bashed in at three in the morning.

  9. “But for many years after that connection was established, the FDA prohibited aspirin manufacturers from advertising it. That single, seemingly minor restriction contributed to the deaths of many, many thousands of Americans.”

    Because daily aspirin has significant risks of causing bleeding and ulceration.

    Many otherwise healthy people were taking it. It should only be taken on the advice of a physician.

    If aspirin were invented today it would be a prescription drug.

    1. So would acetaminophen. And the original OTC narcotic analgesics became prescription drugs.

      Conversely, some COX inhibitors like ibuprofen underwent Rx-to-OTC switch — and turn out to be arguably the most dangerous!

    2. The Pure Food Law smuggled drug prohibition into jurisprudence thanks to prohibitionist China boycotting U.S. exports. The Quing Dynasty banned domestic gardening of analgesic plants and the East India Company promptly flooded the empire with Indian opium. Deporting these sharpsters brought a series of wars the prohibitionists lost. Bans on silver exports meant that drug money could not return to the liquidity-starved Chinese economy. China’s fascination with beheadings as panacea rubbed off on the US via the Boycott and Silent Panic. In less than a year the Panic of 1907 was upon us.

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  12. The drug companies don’t want to eliminate the FDA of course. First it provides a barrier to competition. It also ensures that they will collect from Medicare and insurance.

  13. The FDA should limit its analyses to determining if new drugs are safe. If so, the marketplace will resolve the efficacy issue. Snake oil remedies, like hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, will soon disappear.

    1. Since that is already an approved drug for other things it would just be considered off label use which is permitted. Other quack things like homeopathy are not regulated because they are harmless and don’t come under the FDA.

      Quack stuff will never go away because people are gullible and want to believe in them.

      Interesting that when the FDA does rush things like the Corona vaccines you get another backlash of people who say they won’t get it because it hasn’t been tested enough.

      1. “…Interesting that when the FDA does rush things like the Corona vaccines you get another backlash of people who say they won’t get it because it hasn’t been tested enough…”

        And I’m sure *you* do not see that as a backlash to the government lying in many circumstances, especially in regard to the Wu Flu.

      2. No, actually homeopathic drugs do come under the FFDCA, and are mentioned specifically in it by the 1938 amendments, which made the HPUS official.

    2. But safety is not black and white, just infinite shades of gray. The way people evaluate safety is in conjunction with efficacy, i.e. the tradeoff — is it safe enough for the effect it produces. Safety can’t be evaluated in isolation, and it never was.

  14. Very true. In fact, most government agancies must be wound down and abolished. We’re all grown up now and can take care of ourselves. We have the internet where we can turn to for information. And yes of course some of it is unreliable, but the government truth ministries are destined to fail catastrophically, as they did with COVID.

    However I think a bigger problem in the pandemic was price gouging laws: they caused shortages of essential products like masks and toilet paper that resulted in unnecessary panic and risky behaviors that exacerbated the crisis early on. These laws must also be rescinded.

    1. Are you sure price gouging laws were at play in mask and toilet paper shortages? Where I live there were no such laws, but there were temporary shortages of toilet paper because of hording and supply chain inertia. And commercial mask production and retail took a while to get going.

      1. Where do you live?

        These products are bought and sold on a national market.

        1. Oh, so there were gouging laws for PPE-grade masks. That could certainly have led to shortages for PPE-grade masks.

          Were there price gouging laws for toilet paper or non-PPE masks?

            1. Don’t believe there is any such laws that applied to items that had shortages at the start of the pandemic. Gouging laws can cause shortages, but in this case other factors seemed to be at play.

      2. The White Knight II: The White Knight Rises!
        April.3.2021 at 4:07 pm
        “Are you sure price gouging laws were at play in mask and toilet paper shortages?..”

        Yes.
        Those are nation-wide markets, so price-fixing will affect the national market.
        Is that a mystery to you?

        1. Let’s make this clear:
          Sevo’s Law:
          Any time a third party sticks its nose in a free trade between two parties, one (or more likely, both) will suffer.
          Added: Even if that nose-sticking happens far off.
          Think on that, TDS-addled shit; perhaps you might learn something.

  15. And to protect your rights (and protect you from the occasional robbery by filing a form for your private insurance company), the state will rob you every two weeks. Some deal.

  16. If the State were tasked with stopping people from making risky choices, the first order of the day would be to deport all political parties that advocate the initiation of force. All the whining abt how technology has outstripped “morality” comes from throwbacks who equate ethics with the initiation of deadly force. Now that the libertarian proposition is impossible to ignore, kleptocracies use Nixon election subsidies to entrench and perpetuate aggressor parties. Ditching the FDA would at least prevent some economic crashes.

  17. This is the kind if headline I like to see from a libertarian publication. It is worth pointing out that the implicit claim that this pandemic began due to consumption of bats is entirely unsubstantiated, and it is more likely that it began with a lab leak. This means that perhaps we should not only eliminate the FDA, but also the WHO, which not only has covered up the source of the virus but was likely deeply involved in coordinating the research that led to the outbreak in the first place.

    1. Because that’ll stop private pharmaceuticals from performing risky gain of function experiments for profit, right?

  18. Nothing funnier than an anarchist saying “follow me”.

  19. Which brings us (again) to the story of John Nestor, the FDA evaluator that never found a drug he was willing to approve:

    “In fact, in 1972 he had been transferred out of FDA’s cardio-renal-pulmonary unit because that division “had approved no new chemical entities … from 1968 to 1972, an experience that contrasted with the experience of every other medical modern nation and with the experience of other divisions of the FDA.””

    1. Can’t find a better regulator than one who regulates everything, right?

      1. They know what’s best for everyone, whether they like it or not!

  20. Perhaps true, but woefully short on supportive data. Womp womp.

    1. Got a believable claim otherwise, or just a lefty showing up to gripe?
      Bullshit, bullshit.

  21. “$6 billion and the equivalent of about 18,000 full time staff.”

    Only Gov-Gun threatening THEFT buys the completely incompetent at $333K/yr salaries! No *free* person would buy that kind of service. And that is the very root problem and distortion of using Gov-Guns where the Gov-Guns have no business being.

  22. A teeny tiny step in the direction of a more libertarian country from Reason. I’m shocked.

    Still waiting for Reason to be, you know, *actually* libertarian, and come out for ending medical licensing and prescription drug laws, and let us be Free To Choose to purchase medicine and medical services from whomever we damn well please.

    Why is it only #MyBodyMyChoice when there is arguably *another* body involved, or when I want to get high? Why not when, you know, when I want to make myself *healthier*, or save my life?

    Or does that cut into Kochbux too much?
    Yeah. I bet that’s it.

  23. Instead of abolishing entire agencies, wouldn’t “performance rewards/incentives based on customer feedback” be a better bargain for taxpayers? Also stop penalizing agencies for being efficient. If they save money, simply let the agency keep the money for any constitutional purpose they please (pay raises, gym memberships, parties, whatever). Either way, there is a consequence to their performance. Taxpayers and the agencies both win.

    For example: the Veterans Administration get’s rewarded for getting checks to their customers (veterans) on time. Nothing else has worked ever, why not try it?

  24. At a minimum, the FDA and CDC need to be radically overhauled by eliminating 3 quarters of their size and area of scope. Otherwise simply eliminating them both will leave us in a better state than the current mess that both agencies leave for us to deal with.

    1. I want the FDA and CDC launched into the sun. Jupiter would make an adequate alternative.

  25. Abolish the FDA?
    Orgone accumulators gonna have to smash dey own selves.

  26. About a month ago the FDA condemned the use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19, after 9mos of failing to OK its use. If ivermectin turns out to be effective (it’s known to be safe already—200 million persons in the tropics are currently taking it vs. parasitic diseases) then the agency will eventually face a whirlwind of attacks for causing many deaths and economic losses due to excessively lockdowns. See the ivermectin subtopic on reddit for more.

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