Aspirin and the Regulation of Medicine
As we discuss the effects of various laws designed to protect us from various and sundry, we often lose track of the real, tangible benefits of liberty that we’re giving up. They’re sometimes hard to see, in the same way the Internet was hard to see in the early 90s. It was here, but most people didn’t know about it. Bad laws could easily have prevented the rise of the web (and the reams of pornography it brought), or free, interconnected email (and the spam it brought). Many people would never have realized they were missing anything.
It’s one of the unfortunate things about limiting freedom: its hard to know what you might have had. There are many medicines that you can not buy in the US because of the FDA, and some which you can only because they predate the FDA. A prime example is aspirin. There’s an interesting article about this in Medical Progress Today:
As a drug discovery researcher, I can tell you something that might sound crazy: many of these older drugs would have a hard time getting approved today. Some of them would never even have made it to the FDA at all.
The best example is aspirin itself. It’s one of the foundation stones of the drug industry, and it’s hard to even guess how many billions of doses of it have been taken over the last hundred years. But if you were somehow able to change history so that aspirin had never been discovered until this year, I can guarantee you that it would have died in the lab. No modern drug development organization would touch it.
(Via Marginal Revolution.)