Posts Tagged ‘FDA’

I spent a few hours this morning interviewing a friend of mine for a chapter in my book. My friend has spent his entire career in government and has recently and delightedly retired.  During his professional lifespan, he worked for the Department of Agriculture, specifically Food Safety, and with the Food and Drug Administration, with short stints with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation. The guy got around, mostly unhappily, which may explain why the once pro-government liberal seems to have turned into a libertarian. He’s all for removing government from our lives and damned if he didn’t make a compelling case for doing just that. I’m not convinced yet but I was struck by the extent to which government has insinuated itself into our lives, mandating certain behaviors we take for granted are in our best interests, although they may not be.

What? You say you know that already? Then you’re more informed than I, or perhaps I haven’t put things together as he has. Sure, it could be argued that he’s a bit paranoid. Then again, he’s watched government work – or not work – from the inside for thirty years. What follows are a few of his examples which, amazingly, don’t even address the subject of post 9/11 erosion of civil rights.

  • It takes roughly 10 years for a drug to make it to the market place because of all the FDA requirements. That may seem like a good thing except that if you discover a cure for cancer and you’re not Merck, you won’t have the resources to keep your tiny research company alive long enough to get the drug out there.
  • Speaking of drugs, you don’t have to be pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine to realize that perhaps the argument shouldn’t be whether individual vaccines are effective in inoculating children (studies have shown they are) versus whether individual vaccines are dangerous for some children but rather whether combining all the vaccines and their preservatives and putting them all at once in a tiny body is the best method of delivery or might actually cause avoidable harm. Have we seen that study?
  • You may have noticed your car doesn’t have bumpers. Bumpers worked well in absorbing the impact of a low-speed crash, say in a parking lot or at a stop sign, where many accidents take place but they were eliminated in order to make lighter, faster cars that would presumably get better fuel mileage. Nowadays, cars get better gas mileage, probably because of more efficient engines, but there’s no  study showing bumper-less cars helped. However, rest assured that the decorative fascia that replaced the bumpers don’t absorb impact well and cost much much more to replace, which of course impacts your insurance.
  • All you drivers know seat belts must be worn; you can be pulled over and arrested if you’re not buckled in. Air bags are standard on all vehicles. We know that seat belts can keep you from flying out the car. They can also keep you from escaping the car. Air bags deploy in many instances, like that parking lot fender-bender described above and have been shown to be dangerous to children, pregnant women, pets, smaller people and anyone who wears glasses. These things save lives and also cost lives but anyway, it’s out of your hands at this point.

These are but a very few of the tidbits my friend shared with me, along with some insights into how regulations come into being. One thing we both noted is how often people petition the government for redress of one kind or another. We may not want to pay for Uncle Sam’s interference but we want him to make things better, even in the face of mounting evidence  that he isn’t always on top of his game. 

Read Full Post »