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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

the state kills

Sometimes the State kills people openly, like in Iraq or at Ruby Ridge but more often than not, it's a the slow death by regulation that kills the most. Via Cafe Hayek, Bob Higgs points to a crucial article by Alex Tabarrok that shows how FDA regulation has led to early death for so many innocents:
Deaths due to the drug lag have been numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Wardell (1978a), for example, estimated that practolol, a drug in the beta-blocker family, could save ten thousand lives a year if approved in the United States. Although the FDA first approved a beta blocker, propranolol, in 1968, three years after that drug had become available in Europe, it waited until 1978 to approve propranolol for the treatment of hypertension and angina pectoris, its most important indications. Despite clinical evidence available as early as 1974, only in 1981 did the FDA approve a second beta-blocker, timolol, for prevention of second heart attack. The agency’s dilatory action with regard to beta blockers alone was thus responsible for probably tens of thousands of deaths.
Tabarrok uses data on off-label presecription to produce a devastating case against the FDA in "Assessing the FDA via the Anomaly of Off-Label Drug Prescribing" (PDF). It's a must read and it's a bit depressing to realize that there is little chance that such a deadly agency will be abolished or even curtailed any time soon. Where's the outrage?


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