Pharmaceutical Cosmopolitanism

by Conor Friedersdorf

I've come out in favor of non-comprehensive, piecemeal health care reform, so I ought to suggest at least one discrete policy change. Unlike some conservatives, I haven't any ambition to eliminate the FDA, but I do think that when it comes to the trade-off between approving drugs that hurt people and slowing down drugs that help people, it does the latter more than is optimal.

The solution? The United States should also consider a drug approved so long as it passes muster in certain other countries that we regard as having perfectly acceptable evaluation systems. Say that ended up meaning the European Union and Japan. The effect would be to lower the cost of getting drugs approved, thereby increasing innovation, and offering consumers a choice they wouldn't otherwise have predicated on accepting a risk that they'd be apprised of beforehand.

Though I remember reading something like this before, I cannot find it on the Internet for the life of me. That's too bad. Someone who knows more than me about drug approval could sketch a more sophisticated proposal. But I'd be curious to hear any objections to the core idea.