Fox Business News talking head John Stossel argued recently that the FDA -- the government entity that is responsible for regulation and supervision of a whole host of potentially lethal substances (food, drugs, vaccines, medical devices, etc.) -- should be abolished because it is "protecting us to death."
As usual with these types of strawman arguments, it's argument-by-anecdote:
In what sense are you free if you can’t decide what medicines you will take?
Bruce Tower has prostate cancer. He wanted to take a drug that showed promise against his cancer, but the FDA would not allow it. One bureaucrat told him the government was protecting him from dangerous side effects.
He ends his rant with this classic argument: "It’s my body. Leave me alone."
The best (publishable) response I've read is by BNet's Pharma Analysis blogger Jim Edwards, who says Stossel should be laughed out of town:
His cartoonish exaggeration of that position makes the drug company lobbyists standing on the sidelines, who would like to see a watered-down version of his rantings become law, look more realistic.
In this case, there’s a debate in the drug business about whether terminal cancer patients should have access to unproven, experimental drugs. The patients say they should because they have nothing left to lose and even their deaths could advance research.
On the other hand, the FDA and others — including me — believe that allowing unfettered experimental use of cancer drugs will more likely lead to companies cynically selling useless drugs to desperate patients who are more likely to die than sue.
Unfortunately for Edwards, laughter may be the best medicine (and as of yet, unregulated by those mean old bureaucrats at the FDA) but it's not having the desired effect on Stossel.