Life Extension Magazine March 2005
As We See It
Death by Regulation
By William Faloon
FDA’s Myth of Consumer Protection
The public has been deceived into believing that government “regulations” protect consumers against dangerous and ineffective products. The media, the government, academia, and even large drug companies perpetuate this myth.
For those who believe that government regulations provide a benefit, one only has to look at the cost and dangers of heavily regulated drugs and compare them to those of deregulated dietary supplements.
In 1994, Congress weakened the FDA’s authority to regulate dietary supplements. Critics predicted that this would expose Americans to all kinds of dangerous and bogus products because the FDA would not be able to “protect” the consumer. Since 1994, whenever a hint of concern arises about a dietary supplement, the media and FDA blame the fact that natural products are not “regulated” and therefore pose inherent dangers.
When looking past the FDA and media’s charade about the need for regulation, an interesting pattern of truth emerges. After dietary supplements were deregulated, prices plummeted, more effective nutrients became available, and, most important, virtually no side effects occurred despite the government not overseeing content or potency.22,23
Compare what has happened with deregulated dietary supplements to heavily regulated prescription drugs. Since 1994, drug prices have spiraled so far out of control that the nation’s health care system is facing insolvency; overpriced new drugs are often no better than older drugs; no major disease has been cured; and a record-breaking number of adverse drug reactions and deaths have occurred.24-27
Those who believe they need FDA regulations to protect them are ignoring historical reality. Regulations are the underlying cause of dangerous drugs, ineffective drugs, and overpriced drugs. Regulations enable incompetent FDA officials to declare a drug “safe.” Regulations enable drug companies to exaggerate the purported benefits of drugs approved by the FDA. Regulations protect drug companies against lower-cost competition.28
The most devastating effect of regulations is that they suffocate medical innovation. The FDA has made it so complicated and expensive to get a drug approved that drug companies spend inordinate amounts of their resources just bringing out different versions of existing drugs, instead of investing in novel technologies needed to find cures for the killer diseases of aging. Getting another “statin” drug approved is easy compared to getting the FDA to understand how a new therapy might work by an unprecedented mechanism. Small companies that have innovative ideas but not a lot of money stand little chance of getting their products to market.