and former deputy commissioner to the FDA argues in today's Wall Street Journal
that much of the delay surrounding the supplying to states with sufficient numbers of swine flu vaccines has to do with antiquated and and overbearing regulation at the FDA. Thus, even as President Obama has rightly approached the flu emergency with as much prudent executive action as he could, the limitations on the effectiveness of this approach are pronounced as big government bureaucracy, the rampant litigious nature of American culture, and obsequious bowing to special interest groups make it very difficult for private manufacturers to do their jobs. Dr. Gottlieb notes that in their more scientific and rational approach to regulation of this industry, this is one area where European nations have outpaced America.
I have mixed feelings about all of this. On the one hand, while I appreciate President Obama's efforts to encourage the distribution of the H1N1 vaccine and his commonsensical approach to it, I also appreciate the fact that he cannot summarily order it. Even if his is a rational mind, I don't want it governing mine, yours and everyone's in between. I wouldn't want to see that kind of power in the Presidency. It is good to know that he is not the law and that he is not above it. But on the other hand, who or what is
the law in this situation? Is it the unelected bureaucracy within the FDA? Is it Congress? Is it the trial lawyers? Is it some maddening combination of all of these factors? That last is, certainly, what appears to be the case and it explains some of the mind-boggling inefficiencies that abound within the health industry.
If this episode is anything like a dry run for what an expanded role for government in health care might look like, we should take a pause. Adding more layers to the icing on this mess of a cake is not likely to make it look any less lopsided. In fact, too much icing can sometimes destroy an otherwise tasty cake. Perhaps we would be better served by an effort to begin fresh--with better ingredients and better cookware? Or, perhaps, we'd be even better served by a commonsensical approach that recognizes even lopsided cakes can taste pretty darn good.