Corruption at the FDA
One practical argument against government’s having the power to approve medicines for sale is that it lulls consumers into a false sense of security, which is worse than no sense of security at all. It’s easy for people, most of whom do not read critical writings, to believe that government personnel are a disinterested parties in any process to determine which drugs may be marketed and which may not. In a fully free market, people would tend to be more skeptical, and there would be a better-developed market for independent information. At least people could not naively lean on the government as though it were a civics-book public-interest agency.
Today’s New York Times has a timely reminder, if one were needed, that the regulatory process is hopelessly corrupt. According to the Times, about a third of the panel of advisers who voted on whether the COX-2 pain medicines Vioxx, Celebrex, and Bextra should be permitted on the market had worked recently for the manufacturers of the drugs. The point is not that the Food and Drug Administration shouldn’t permit the drugs on the market. The point is that the government should have nothing to say about it.