I blog about free markets in medical care and transparent pricing.
A government agency is using an isolated incident as an excuse to grab more power. As someone blogged on their Tumblr site the other day, “In other news, water is moist.” The FDA, always there to protect us from ourselves, wants the power to regulate pharmacies that compound drugs, rather than manufacture them. The difference between compounding and manufacturing is a matter of quantity. Of course, the reason pharmacies compound drugs at all is that the FDA has made the manufacture of these drugs impossible. Now the FDA wants to make it impossible for patients to obtain these drugs at all, or only at the prices their big pharma buddies demand. The most recent excuse for the FDA invasion of compounders is a fungal tainted steroid solution from an isolated pharmacy in Massachusetts.
As the FDA has run many companies out of business, the only source of certain drugs, some of which are life-saving, has been the compounders. Preservative free drugs for spinal injections, hyaluronidase (a local anesthetic spreading agent) and the life-saving drug, succinylcholine have all been available to our surgery center no thanks to the FDA. These drugs at one time or another for the last 7 years have been available only due to the efforts of local pharmacy compounders. Guess what these pharmacies will do with their compounding business when the FDA threatens to “regulate” them if they choose to continue compounding drugs?
Remember that the FDA is the outfit responsible for granting the exclusive distribution rights for scorpion anti-venom to a single Tennessee company, an action the result of which caused the drug (available for $100 over the counter in Mexico) to achieve a $3750 price in this country. This markup of 37 times dwarfs the usual and subsequent hospital markup of 10 times. Think any money changed hands on this deal? Wonder why the FDA wants more power? It’s because they care so much about us, isn’t it?
Murray Rothbard described the state as “a criminal gang writ large.” Power translates into wealth or more power for later wealth through confiscation. Any time a government agency wants more power this should appropriately be viewed no differently than a mafia gangster seeking to enlarge his territory. The FDA has tried to grab the compounding pharmacies in the past. I know that the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is on to them and will fight this expansion of government. The FDA’s “clients,” the big pharmaceutical companies will be silent on this, as they will be the primary beneficiaries of this power grab. With the compounding pharmacies out of the way, the giant pharmaceutical companies will be the only source, however unaffordable, of the drugs these compounders have been making available at affordable prices. The FDA’s goal is industry consolidation, the result of which will be more gigantic profits for their primary clients, those greasing the palms of the FDA gangsters. This is crony capitalism at its finest.
And there remain among us those that believe government intervention in health care will cause the quality of care to be higher and the price to be lower.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.