Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Remember back when I endorsed shanedk's science videos? I think it's time I unendorsed his political ones, including this one time he took a stab at the FDA, saying it's killed more people than it's saved. I'm worried he might be an altie, relying on bogus ways of measuring how many lives they've saved, so that they can underestimate the value of food and medical regulations.

1 comment:

James K said...

This is actually less of a fringe claim than you might think. I have heard health economists (including Marginal Revolution's Alex Tabarrok) make this claim. The underlying logic is that the FDA has asymmetric incentives. If it lets a product through and someone dies they catch hell for it. But if they hold a drug up and 1000 people die waiting, no one blames them. And the area where the FDA could do most good, blocking woo, they can do nothing because Congress won't let them. Paradoxically this might actually promote woo because "they wouldn't let people sell it if it was bad".

Friedman advocated replacing the FDA with a liability insurance system where the insurance companies' profit motives would cause them to filter out bad treatments. I'm not entirely convinced this is a good idea, but it is fair to say the FDA is seriously underperforming and in need of serious reform.