Tear Down the FDA

It's a shame that the people most harmed by the existence of the FDA - and the culture of "I have power over you and you shall do as I say" that supports it - are not up in arms. The most vocal opponents of the FDA over the past decade or so are probably folk in the supplement industry. They, despite the threat of jail, losses, and other indignities for doing no more than providing a desired and responsible commercial service, are by no means the most harmed. No, the most harmed are the dying, and we are all counted in that group while the FDA continues in its position that potential longevity therapies will not be approved. No approval means no funds for development, and hence little evidence to show in support of radical change.

The cancer patients, the Alzheimer's sufferers, and all those with other named medical conditions suffer as well: the FDA and associated regulatory bodies form a huge ball and chain that slows progress in science to a fraction of what it might be. When medical development costs much more due to regulation, you will see fewer new medicines. When government employees have greater incentive to deny than approve, you will see fewer new medicines. This is exactly what happens, and the cost is measured in lives.

Back to the supplement industry. One of their voices can be found at the Consumers Against High Drug Prices site, an earnest place that nonetheless seems to me to be missing the real point of the exercise. But it is a supplement industry effort, and that narrows their focus to bottles and herbs - the here and now, rather than what could be, and what might have been in medical research. They would like to largely dismantle the FDA in their neck of the woods - but that sort of renegotiation of the contract with government employees never really works. When was the last time you recall government employees giving up the option to interfere in a given area of commerce? That option to interfere - and cause destruction and mayhem - is how politicians maintain their influence. It's the rule of the sword for a modern age.

You have to keep the incentives in mind. Politicians and government employees have no incentive to play nice and leave you be, no matter what the paper says. So they won't. Trying to redirect or reclassify the power held by others to your benefit is a form of self-delusion: once you're set on that course, the politicians already own your mind. It's a shell game, slightly more complicated and obscure than the voting shell game, but really no different in essence. The only solution to government abuse of power is the absence of that power.

Centralization of power - the state and regulation, in other words - is a form of age-related damage for human societies. It accumulates, piling ever deeper and broader, and leads to degeneration and disease. Look no further than the Soviet Union for an example of where it all leads in the end, but the place we are now is a far cry from the best of all worlds. If you have an interest in a long, healthy life, then you should also have an interest in why modern democracies are greatly slowing progress to that end.

Comments

Hi,

We have heard a lot about the problems with the FDA and US in hindering the anti aging progress.

Why do we focus so much on the US if it seems so difficult to change the way the industry works. Why not also take a look at the potential of other country which may pose less hindrance?
We've been talking about the hindrance in US for a long time, and really need to start to look for other opportunity as well instead of only focusing in the US.

Posted by: Jason at July 28th, 2008 7:58 PM

Always keep in mind the now defunct Interstate Commerce Commission. It's unlikely, yes, but quite possible for us to get rid of a government agency.

Posted by: blastoff at July 29th, 2008 2:13 PM

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