You’re sick and need medicine that has proved its benefits to you. Will the Food and Drug Administration let you use it?
The FDA recently extracted $600 million from Allergan, makers of Botox, for promoting uses for Botox different from those for which it was approved. It’s not illegal to use the drug for unapproved uses; it’s just illegal, sometimes, to tell you about those other uses. This, despite the fact that the First Amendment doesn’t exclude members of the pharmaceutical industry.
Now we’re hearing that the FDA has flip-flopped about letting people use midodrine, which quells dizziness. Back in 1996, midodrine was approved under “an abbreviated process,” one too brief to determine whether it really helps with dizziness. So, recently the agency outlawed sales of midodrine until its effectiveness could be shown. But — oops! — during the intervening 14 years, patients have come to depend on it. These patients swamped the FDA with complaints. So now the agency, in good-cop mode, says, okay okay, you can use it.
Thus, if you can persuade bureaucrats to let you medicate yourself as you and your doctor see fit, you get to do so. If not . . . sorry.
The New York Times talks about the “tough choices” facing the FDA, since banning a drug can mean “stranding desperate patients.” Congress should represent patients by stripping the agency of any power whatever to dictate when and how we may act to improve our own health.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.