Don’t Look for Congress to Hold the FDA accountable
Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has come under increased scrutiny into its processes and procedures for approving and guaranteeing the safety of drugs, medical devices, and a host of other consumers’ essentials.
The FDA’s’ regulatory reach is astounding, affecting a trillion dollars of goods purchased each year.
In normal times, when no pandemics threaten the public’s health and safety, we barely notice the FDA.
But the Agency’s early and largely bungled response to the coronavirus has exposed several long-term weaknesses inside its sprawling bureaucracy. It’s not from a lack of employees. As the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards notes, “[t]otal FDA employment increased 79 percent from 2007 to 2019.”
A big portion of those new workers – 900, according to Edwards – were tasked with regulating tobacco.
Instead, the FDA struggles in crisis situations are rooted in its culture. As Dr. Henry Miller, a former FDA scientist, wrote in Regulation Magazine, the Agency labors under “perverse incentives” that:
…yield a host of negative consequences for public welfare, ranging from disincentives for product research and development (and inflated costs for them), to significant threats to public health.
The American public is paying for those incentives right now. While the FDA has shed some of its bureaucratic baggage to more effectively assist – or at least stop interfering with – the wider coronavirus response effort, more will need to happen.
Just don’t expect Congress to lead the way in looking for answers or accountability. Instead, a House committee will be on the prowl for price gougers and profiteers.