pizzazz wrote:Strictly speaking, removing options cannot make your choice better. Perhaps more importantly, the entire idea behind the FDA doesn't seem like it necessarily helps. You are essentially sacrificing those who would be saved by any drug you ban, because they are actually sick, to save those who would kill themselves by taking something they don't know is safe.
First of all, the FDA makes sure that drugs are safe AND effective. Ineffective drugs on the market do not save any lives. All they can do is hurt people if they take them instead of the regular drug.
It seems like the claim "removing options cannot make your choice better" is not based on observations of actual humans, but rather on idealized, perfectly informed H. economicus. In the case of actual humans, if you give people the option to take a homeopathic placebo instead of an effective drug, some of them will take that option, mostly because they have been told it the placebo is effective. Removing the option causes them to make better choices, so the claim is false.
And the point with the herbal supplements was more that some people will always make poor decisions, but I don't think other people should have to suffer because the government is trying to protect idiots from themselves.
Is it only idiots who take herbal supplements? Consider all the reasons someone might take a homeopathic medication instead of an actual drug:
1. The person is an idiot.
2. The person's doctor is a quack who prescribed the homeopathic medication.
3. The person was convinced by a slick practitioner of homeopathic medicine that the "all-natural" product was healthier.
4. The person's friend told him or her that the actual drug contained rat poison, and presented seemingly reliable (but actually fraudulent) sources.
5. The person's doctor prescribed the drug, but the person went to a lecture given by a prominent doctor, where he cited his study from the Lancet (since discredited, but he didn't mention that in the lecture) that showed the drug was unsafe, and recommended the homeopathic alternative. Since the person's doctor is not as eminent as the prominent British doctor, it seems more reasonable to trust the prominent doctor.
6. The person read a study published by a group at a large public university that claims the homeopathic treatment is effective, and, while not an idiot, doesn't have the scientific background needed to understand the study's flaws.
If the medication is not blatantly fraudulent like homeopathy, but merely ineffective, there are several other potential reasons:
7. The person's doctor was convinced by a well-designed study that suggested effectiveness, but the result was actually a statistical fluke that will be exposed with more testing.
8. The person's doctor explained to the patient that a new medication of unknown effectiveness was available as an option, and the patient overestimated the likelihood that the medication would in fact be effective.
And there is one really important huge one:
9. The person's insurance company refused to pay for the administration of the effective drug, citing the relatively lower prices of the new (but unbeknownst to anyone, ineffective) drug.