There is an old saying in Washington that when something has been repeated three times, it becomes a fact. The saying’s most recent application is the supposed shortcomings in the safety of prescription drugs. The reality is that although all drugs have side effects — which can be serious and/or frequent — modern pharmaceuticals have wrought miracles in the control of pain, the treatment and prevention of infections, and the amelioration of diseases of aging such as arthritis and cancer.
Regulators need to balance patients’ access to therapies with ensuring the safety of drugs. The consequences of poor decisions can be dire: promote access at the expense of safety, and a dangerous product can cause incalculable harm; over-emphasize safety at the expense of access, and patients suffer from the absence of life-saving and life-enhancing medications.
More CEI work on food and medical safety is here.