The fact that more people die from FDA-approved drugs than illegal drugs should be enough of a reason to send the FDA into the dustbin of history with the Soviet Politburo. This week’s EpiPen pricing scandal adds fuel to the fire as the FDA has barred and made it virtually impossible to compete with Mylan’s product. It’s time to abolish the crony FDA and breathe some new life into America. Ron Paul’s Myth-Busters makes the case.
Ron Paul: Hello everybody and thank you for tuning in to the Liberty Report. Today we do Myth Busters and the co-host is Chris Rossini and he is also the editor of the ronpaullibertyreport.com. Chris, nice to see you today.
Chris Rossini: Great to be with you Dr. Paul.
Ron Paul: Good. I understand that we will be discussing the FDA, it’s been in the news, dealing with the EpiPen. We want to go over that, but I’ve been interested in talking about the FDA for a long time, having been in medicine and know some of the pros and cons of that. It’s a 4 billion dollar industry, but let’s see what we can do with this subject today.
Chris Rossini: Yes, the EpiPen was big news this week. We had an article on our website that skyrocketed in traffic, so we decided to go to the root of the problem, which is not often talked about and that is the FDA and there is many myths that surround the FDA and we will start with the myth that we need a government gatekeeper for prescription drugs. It’s very odd, because more people actually die using FDA-approved drugs, than drugs that government considers illegal and tries to stop people from using. If you could talk about that and also the situation of people dying for no reason because they would voluntarily like to use a drug, but it’s being held up in the bureaucratic FDA.
Ron Paul: Interestingly enough, America is still seen as a country of free markets and prosperity and capitalism, yet is one of the worst countries in the world for managing and delaying and bureaucratic interference of the development of drugs. Many other countries are much further ahead.
I practiced medicine both near the Mexican border and the Canadian border and at both times there were people who would go to either country, whether it was Mexico or Canada to get medications that we couldn’t get here. But, that has persisted, it’s gotten much worse. We have a direction in this country where the government is getting more and more involved in medicine all the time and there are some who argue for one party payment and socialized medicine and there is others who argue for this mixture of business and government. That is the direction we go, whether the Democrats or Republicans and that becomes more of a fascist type of system and becomes a system where the businesspeople are protected.
Now, we have developed a medical industrial complex, every bit as ornery, probably not quite as big as the military industrial complex, but the process is very, very similar. But, like you mentioned in the opening, there are a lot of delays, there is a lot of expenses, it takes a long time, because the mandate is that the FDA has to make sure that all drugs are safe and effective and this is almost impossible.
One thing that I find of interest is that when they finally do get a drug approved by the FDA and then it’s on the market and the doctors sort of forced into using those drugs and they get into big trouble and if they do it and do it exactly as it has been approved all these years and the drug companies produce these, then all of a sudden there will be a complication and there will be lawsuits and then there will be another profession coming up, advertising on TV, if you have ever used this drug, they never say if you ever used this FDA-approved drugs come to us and we are going to win a lot of money for you.
It is very costly and it does bring out drugs that are the biggest epidemic in this country, the pain medications, the opioids and there is a billion dollar industry and they are promoted and doctors over-prescribe these and yet you can go out in your garden and get a weed called marijuana and probably be much more effective than any of these things and it would have no cost. But, they take a weed and put restrictions on it and you can’t use it and turn it into a billion dollar industry in order to protect another multi-billion dollar industry where you get your license from the government.
The FDA has not been helpful at all, it delays it, it has been estimated in many, many thousands of people have died, not only from the legal drugs permitted by the FDA, but also because of the delay of drugs. This, as far as I am concerned, could be much better managed by the free market where there is responsibility for this, rather than saying the bureaucrats will take care of this, they have our best interest. The FDA has been around for a good while, for over a hundred years, but it’s gotten worse all the time, their major changes in the 60s. At the beginning it was minor, but that is the whole story. When the income tax started it was minor and then look at the regulations, nobody can understand and the same way in this case.
So, there are many complications caused by these people who say we are going to do good and we are going to protect the people. Once again, it’s back to this whole thing, is that the government’s responsibility to make us safe and make sure that we never make a mistake and reject the notion that there’s a private alternative to making sure that drugs are safe and how we handle this, so government’s shouldn’t even be involved in that and that is really just heresy to most people, because the government will take care of me, not only will they protect me against bad drugs, they are going to make sure I can get the drugs and pay for it. Of course we are going to talk about that a little bit, but it ends up they can’t even pay for them either. It really hurts the people they pretend they are helping.
Chris Rossini: Yes and one thing that we shout out from the hilltops is that if people want protection and regulation, there is no tougher and harsher regulator out there than the free market. It plays no favorites, humans play favorites. SO, when you have a government bureaucracy, it is much easier for a crony corporation to restrict competition by greasing some politicians than actually to compete with somebody that is trying to eat their lunch. That is what we saw this week Dr. Paul with the EpiPen situation. We have a situation where Mylan the corporation and the FDA restricted any competitors. IS is any wonder that the price of the drug skyrocketed?
Ron Paul: No, there was no wondering, it was predictable. We create a system and Obamacare has contributed to this, although that was in motion for a long time, but here we have, we come along with Obamacare, everybody is forced to buy insurance. Actually, the insurance companies are complaining now and they can’t afford it and they are going to drop Obamacare, but they were behind Obamacare because they were going to be beneficiaries. Everybody had to buy insurance and then the drug companies could set their prices because of a third-party payment. That is a principle that has to be looked at and that is not only what we are facing today, but it’s something going on a long time. The doctors and the medical industry who are much behind third-party payment. That is not insurance if you have a third-party payment for the first dollar spent. That is prepayment and it never works.
True insurance means that you would have insurance against catastrophic events, major illnesses, accidents, hospitalizations and things like that. But, once you ensure the first dollar you spend, then you come along with something like EpiPen and only one company be due to FDA regulations, they are the only ones that makes it and they keep out the competitors and the individual doesn’t pay for it. So, they say my insurance company will pay for it, the Medicare will pay for it, the government will pay for it. Then, all of a sudden, we can raise this to no end, because by this time, we’ve eliminated competition and EpiPen was a total disgrace on what they did. They cam in and had a law passed. The Congress was complicit in this and they passed a law that mandated that every school had to have these EpiPens available everywhere. So, it was a propaganda machine.
It was not something that it would be developed in the free market. Then, they decided one injection wasn’t enough, you might need two, so they had the laws where you had to have two of these and then it turns out that they only stay usable for a year, so there is an automatic replacement and you narrow it down to the company, you had these regulations, you keep out the competition and then you build up the consumer. But, the whole problem is epinephrine has been around for 100 years, it costs pennies to develop and there was one company that said why don’t we, we will compete and just do it the old-fashioned way and that is put it in a syringe with a needle on it and take off the cap and give the injection. As a matter of fact, I had to do that twice in raising my kids and used it twice, it was just that, but that was ruled out, it was too dangerous to do it that way and you had to go back to this system and another company tried to have an alternative to it and it wasn’t approved by the FDA, they said it’s not safe enough.
The market would handle this so much differently, but they usually go to the Congress to protect the consumer. I can remember once where it was to protect the consumer, the patients from the doctors, doing their own lab work. Of course I had a little lab in my office. I could do hemoglobins and blood sugars and cholesterols and charge them five dollars, where a lab might charge them 25 dollars and I could have the results instantaneously and they came along and because they said this wasn’t safe enough, we have to have professional big labs do this, so they made prohibitions and made it very, very difficult, so the day after that regulation went in, they were knocking on the doctors doors for the big labs to come in and do the lab work. Still, it was promoted by big business and that is what goes on here in this drug industry.
I mean it’s incestuous with the people that are at the FDA and then when they leave they go and become the lobbyist for the drug companies and it’s big bucks and the safety factor, safe and effective that it’s safe and effective for the money, for the corporations who are making these big dollars and think of that individual that was able to get a license for the drug for toxoplasmosis and he was so arrogant about it and he’s gotten into a little trouble, because it was so atrocious what he was doing. He brought it in and boosted up the price. But, this was a drug that was available over the counter as a generic for years, but it wasn’t allowed to be sold in this country. So, he went and got a license and he got a monopoly license from the FDA to sell this drug.
That is the other thing that insurance is not competitive either, if you cant go across state line to get insurance, if there is an insurance company that wanted to do this a different way, but the basic problem starts with the third-party payment and then the big corporations get in bed with the government and then there is all these shenanigans and then they on this sympathy card and it is immoral not do to something about protecting kids who might get a bee sting. If you look at the numbers and alternative things, that kid can get hurt in many ways, it can get hit, he probably gets hit with a baseball at school more than a bee sting ever and get serious harm, but it’s always pumped it up that the government is going to take care of us and they can make everything safe and effective and what they are doing is they are protecting the market for some special interest and who knew how to manipulate it and they never say what would be the alternative in the free market. They don’t ask that question, because obviously there are some alternatives.
Chris Rossini: Yes, next Dr. Paul we are going to be talking about the FDA and their cookie-cutter solutions. We are a nation of 300 million Americans, we absolutely need a free market to solve all the various different problems. We are all different, but the way that bureaucracy and government works, it’s a one-size-fits-all solutions and the politicians, they like that because I recall hearing back in the Nixon days when they instituted price controls that Herb Stein said that he got a rush out of instituting price controls on such a huge amount of people. That is how the FDA works. They will ban something like trans fats for everyone. Now, Dr. Paul, science is always evolving, what is good today may be bad tomorrow, what is bad today may be good tomorrow. Shouldn’t it be up to us to make the decision of what we put in our bodies?
Ron Paul: Obviously so and the other thing that is really outrageous is when they do give some companies some special benefits and they have these mandates and they rule one way or the other, like EpiPen. If there is an injury, they are exempt from the liability, so although there are a lot of lawsuits going on after these companies are approved by the FDA, this one in particular was exempt, so that was a very efficient lobbying effort there. So, this one-size-fits-all is typical of government, no matter what they do, so they will come up, they are authoritarians and they have no trust in people’s own judgment and just think of the great dangers that little children have to go through in this age, anything from taking poisons from under the scene, getting near fire and hot and heat and getting burned, watching for automobiles and all these things, that is what parents are supposed to be about. All of a sudden, as soon as they step out the door, it’s going to be the government that has to step in and protect them and it really does backfire.
People will say you are so callous, you don’t care. No, I think we really care, because the government does a lot more harm, more harm has come from the FDA than any good has ever come from the FDA. So, we should accept this notion that government knows best, parents don’t care and kids would all die if we didn’t have the government there to take care of us and you could look at this in economic terms and look at the situation our economy is in, you could apply that same principle to foreign policy, that we are making the world safe for democracy and yet it’s perpetual war that is accumulated, so this trust in government is a fallacy and yet people make fun of that and say libertarians just hate government.
We really despise a lot of government, that doesn’t make us anarchists, but it makes us say that most things should be taken care of by the individual. That was the revolution, that was what the Constitution was about. It was so grand, although it was eroded rather quickly afterwords, this was a grand notion that responsibility was being put on the individual, rather than the dependency on government, because everybody knew it would fail and would cost a lot of money and that is where we are in this whole idea with the FDA taking care of us. Chris Rossini: Finally Dr. Paul, let’s talk about what freedom would look like if we actually had total control and made our own decisions when it came to our health. It’s impossible to predict what entrepreneurs would act if they were set free and were able to solve our problems because their creativity cannot be predicted ahead of time. But, what would be obvious, like let’s say acting as a gatekeeper for prescription drugs, can that be done privately and don’t you have a reputation and if you do do some shady stuff, can’t you go out of business?
Ron Paul: This reminds me of a daydream I’ve had many times over the years, which is a daydream, because it’s past time and nobody is going to accept it. I always thought, I wonder what the highway system would be like if a private industry developed it and when you think of the highway industry, how many people die in that industry, if it would be private, enough people died, there would be a lot of outcry about that and there is a lot of things you could do with a highway system that is privately developed. The same way with the development of drugs. It’s not like the regulations could even be harsh, instead of being protected by government, given special benefits and profits driving it and lobbying drives it and you have a medical industrial complex, you’d have responsibilities and real liability for what people are doing, but it would open up opportunities.
The first thing is it wouldn’t take you 30 years and 30 million dollars to get a drug on the market, the individual could do that and you say who is going to inspect it, who is going to give it this approval? There may well be a system that would develop where you would have an agency do this, something like that could pop up just by people would donate and say look at this is a good idea, a good housekeeping seal of approval. They did that, they sold that information and still around. So, yes, there is ways to do it.
Another example I thought might apply here is what happened with C-Span. C-Span is not a government run operation. C-Span in financed by cable companies who thought this is a good idea to have this news, it’s independent and as a matter of fact it’s as independent as we get and I think C-Span does a great job, but the cable companies pay for it, so this came up where they are a monitor. You could have something like that and the drug companies might say look, I want to join this and we will finance it and if they are not independent, nobody will believe them or there will be competition, so there is ways of getting approval that people should be willing to look at.
But, there is one thing that would have to become legal and that is the doctor-patient relationship. You should legalize contract. If I am in the business of treating cancer patients or other things and I come up with an alternative care, what about a holistic care for cure for cancer that I believed in and we don’t have an FDA and I don’t have absolute proof. It makes sense to me, I’ve had some success. The most important thing is the doctor talks to the patient and saying look, this is what I have, this is what this is, this is still in the experimental stage and I don’t know for sure, but I think there is a good chance that would happen. Upfront, no fraud, no false promises, you can’t say I have a cure, you take this and give me 20 thousand dollars, I am going to cure you from your disease. That would be fraudulent.
I think in the free market you would have a lot more alternatives and holistically speaking, because they are not allowed to advertise. There is a lot of invasion of their first amendment to just tell people why you should eat a certain way or take certain things and they will say that is practicing and you can’t do this. I think that the marketplace would solve a lot of these problems and that contract, that personal relationship and you wouldn’t have this system of government either that’s paying for it, that I mentioned before about if a third-party is paying for it and the person getting the value, they don’t care so much about prices going up. The individual would be able to notice immediately if the prices were going very quickly.
The other important thing in the free market is you have to have free market entry, if you have free market entry, you never have a private monopoly, even if they get 90 percent of the market, if you can come into it, it is not an absolute monopoly. When you have an absolute monopoly, it’s only when it’s government protected, like we just looked with the EpiPen and other things in medicine. They can go and narrow it down and you get protection from the government, so you would have to eliminate this. The patient has to make choices, there can’t be any fraud and you should allow people to advertise freely in a free market, as long as there is no fraud and lying about it.
I would be very optimistic that things would happen, as a matter of fact, before the FDA, we had development of things like insulin and penicillin when we didn’t have a lot of management by government and the individuals a lot of the time did their own experiments on themselves and they came to the market in a matter, even some of the immunizations came about in a much more private way without government bureaucracy and involvement. If we really want to improve medicine, improve the opportunity for drug usage and make sure that people can use things that grow freely in the wild to be used as medication and make sure that they don’t prop up the bad stuff like opioids and finance it and set the stage with more people die from that, than they do from anything done in the free market.
People say you are overly optimistic and I am not overly optimistic, I am just a strong believer in liberty, but I also know that even liberty, because man is imperfect, nothing is going to be perfect, there is still going to be problems. But, since man is imperfect and a lot of imperfections ends up in the bureaucracy and in politics and in Congress, you don’t have them writing laws, mandating this, so the imperfections in the market are minimal, compared to the mistakes made by individuals who find themselves in the positions of power and control and who can predict the big industry. That is where our real problem is. Like always, I am a strong defender of liberty and believe that if there were more freedom and freedom of choices in the distribution and the prescribing of drugs, we’d all be much better off.
Chris, I want to thank you for being with us today on helping us on this program.
Chris Rossini: My pleasure, thank you Dr. Paul.
Ron Paul: Good. I want to thank all our viewers today for joining us on this very important subject and please come back soon.