I’ve commented before on how the FDA, far from being a government agency with consumers’ interest in mind, in reality just serves the interests of the pharmaceutical industry — the epitome of crony capitalism. As I mentioned, one way the FDA does this is helping Big Pharma monopolize the market by banning the importation of drugs, thus forcing Americans to pay more for the same product they could get cheaper from manufacturers outside the U.S. I read two notable examples of this cronyism last week.
The first was from the New York Times, which told the story of 71-year-old Lee Higman, who ordered prescription medication from Canada only to have the shipment intercepted and held by the FDA. It cost Higman $100 to buy his meds from Canada, whereas to purchase the same drug in the U.S. would cost him $1,000.
The second was Mark Thornton’s personal story at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Thornton explained how he got the gout in his big toe. The medication he was prescribed, colchicine, was a natural drug that had been used for thousands of years, and yet still cost nearly $200. Why? Because in 2009, the FDA exclusively approved the brand name of the drug, Colcrys, as a treatment for gout, granting an effective monopoly over the sale of colchicine in the U.S. to this brand manufacturer. As Thornton remarks,
Once again government has taken something that was both cheap and beneficial and turned it into a monopoly that hurts the general public and drives up the cost of medical care to the benefit of Big Pharma.