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Trust Us, We're Here To Help You

Let's say you built a building, got it inspected and a certificate of occupancy issued, and then the roof caved in. You sue your builder. Then the twist - the local government files an amicus brief on behalf of the builder. Their claim? The building was issued a certificate of occupancy, so suing the builder undermines the credibility of the government.

It would be funny except that the feds are doing the same thing right now with the FDA. And in at least one case they've won. By way of the NY Times:

The Bush administration has been going to court to block lawsuits by consumers who say they have been injured by prescription drugs and medical devices.

The administration contends that consumers cannot recover damages for such injuries if the products have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In court papers, the Justice Department acknowledges that this position reflects a "change in governmental policy," and it has persuaded some judges to accept its arguments, most recently scoring a victory in the federal appeals court in Philadelphia.

Allowing consumers to sue manufacturers would "undermine public health" and interfere with federal regulation of drugs and devices, by encouraging "lay judges and juries to second-guess" experts at the F.D.A.

As if no product has ever been FDA approved and then later been found to have serious problems and been pulled off the market (the FDA's own website even has a page about this issue). But even more than that, it's the idea that the government is right and people are wrong that bugs me.


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Fiat Lux has a nice comparison that makes the point about the failures of the government's FDA well. [Read More]

Comments (3)

I like the example of the builder. It makes the point well.

The purpose, of course, as I think we both realize, is not to protect public health but private profit, as it effectively immunizes any medical device or drug on the market from damage claims and is of necessity based on the principle that the FDA is infallible.

Some years ago, I for a time took an anti-inflammatory med because of a bum knee. I stopped because it didn't seem to be doing any good. Later, that med was pulled from the market because it was ineffective and, it developed, potentially dangerous. So which FDA should I have regarded as infallible? The one that approved it or the one that took the approval back?

fiat lux:

Indeed. Not to beat a dead horse, but this is one of the hundreds of examples of things that would be very different in a Kerry administration.

Actually, I'm not so sure of that. Thinking back to our last "liberal" president and looking at his poroposals for health care, I don't see him as having been such a foe of Big Pharma. I'm not convinced John Kerry, who has made a point of telling business groups that he's not their opponent and he "doesn't want to repeat the mistakes of 20, 25 years ago," would be all that much different.

Put another way, less bad is not good.

I keep saying this over and over: If I lived in a tossup state, I'd vote for Kerry. I wouldn't be happy about it, but I'd do it. But unless we go into a Kerry administration with our eyes wide open, we're going to get sandbagged.


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