Bureaucratic Incentives Create Deadly Consequences

From Dan Mitchell:

Walter Williams summarizes why the Food and Drug Administration is likely to delay the approval of drugs that benefit people. Simply stated, they adopt a risk-averse strategy to avoid being criticized for allowing a dangerous drug on the market, even though almost all drugs can be dangerous:

…if you’re an FDA official, what are your incentives in terms of whether to approve or disapprove the marketing of a drug that has a tremendous benefit to some patients and poses a health threat to others? Former FDA Commissioner Alexander Schmidt hinted at the answer when he said, “In all our FDA history, we are unable to find a single instance where a Congressional committee investigated the failure of FDA to approve a new drug. But the times when hearings have been held to criticize our approval of a new drug have been so frequent that we have not been able to count them. The message to FDA staff could not be clearer.” There’s little or no cost to the FDA for not approving a drug that might be safe, effective and clinically superior to other drugs for some patients but pose a risk for others. My question to FDA officials is: Should a drug be disapproved whenever it poses a health risk to some people but a benefit to others? To do so would eliminate most drugs, including aspirin, because all drugs pose a health risk to some people.

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/WalterEWilliams/2007/05/30/fda_friend_or_foe

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