Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Destroy the FDA?

I was reading Bob Welch's Senate campaign website, and among his health care proposals, he says this:

The average new medicine takes approximately 14 years and $800 million to move from the research phase to the shelves of local pharmacies. America has the safest drug supply on earth, and it would be foolish to sacrifice patients’ safety and confidence under the guise of shaving a small fraction off the price of medicine. But the system can be run more efficiently. Other countries have certified independent, private firms to test for compliance with quality and safety standards. This has cut the time needed for regulatory approval without sacrificing patient safety or the effectiveness of medicines. Innovative thinking is needed to identify other ways that regulatory red tape can be cut while at the same time ensuring that all new medicines meet our high standards.

After further research, there seem to be some Cato and Heritage studies about privatizing oversight of drug research.

Quick, flip response: Yes, and let's also privatize the USDA and let meat packers self regulate. (remember me?)

And, of course, the industry argues that tort liability will encourage private regulators to be more stringent than government regulators are anyway.

We all know how everyone likes tort liability. Do you think they would wait until the first big judgment against a negligent regulator before they started arguing that tort liability raises the cost of everyone's drugs, and should be limited?

Post Script: I realize that full privatization is not what Mr. Welch is proposing, but so shocked was I by the notion of eliminating government oversight of drug research that it compelled me to look a little deeper.


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