I would go much further than Milton Friedman had in condemnation of the FDA – and its counterparts in other countries.
‘Nobody’ trusts the pharmaceutical companies to be in this for any altruistic purpose: they are in it for self interest. Therefore, if the company claims something is safe, the consumer will still be compelled to do some amount of due dilligence and checking before taking a pharmaceutical drug – or feeding it to their children.
However, if s third party – ostensibly impartial and backed by the government, which is, of course accountable to us, the elctorate (well, that is the theory), in confers an air of safety to such an endorsement.
To take the example of Thalidamide, as was used in the above video: Here, in Canada – as well as in Europe – the drug was government approved and as a result of this, women trusted the product and took it. Yes, I personally know people who were born deformed beacuse of this trust in the government doing the due dilligence, instead of people doing it themselves.
But I would also look at it from a slightly different angle: by having their product goverment approved, the liability of the pharmaceutical companies is actually greatly diminished: no longer do they have to live up to a testing standard that, if it is too low, will bankrupt them with lawsuits. Now, they no longer have to think of all the possible things that could go wrong with their product – all they have to do is satisfy a pre-set number of conditions and convince a few bureaucrats that they have done so.
Even leaving aside the competence and or possible corruption og civil servants, this will necessarily lead to a much lower level of product testing by the manufacturers.
And, it leaves the choice away from the consumer.
Please, permit me to indulge in an example from my life.
Once upon a time, there was a medication called Vioxx. It has since been taken off the market, but…
When I was first prescribed this medication, I was told it was not supposed to be used in people over the age of 50, because the drug increased the likelihood of heart attacks, and the older one was, the more that chance increased. I chose to accept that risk, being fully aware of it.
As did a friend of mine, who has an inoperable tumour on her spine which, as it grows, is slowly crippling her.
When we took Vioxx – we were alive!!!
And well! I could do things with my kids, my friend’s tumour had shrunk so much she could walk again.
Increasing the probability of a heart attack was a price we were happy to pay for the quality of life that Vioxx brought us. We were in our 30’s, so our risk was relatively low, but even if it were 100x higher, I would still have chosen to use that medicine.
Since it was taken off the market because several people in their 60’s who took it suffered heart attacks, my friend and I cannot get the meds we want, and which we are willing to accept despite side effects.
So, who is it that owns my body – and decides what I do or do not ingest?