Thursday, January 02, 2003


The vast web of red tape that surrounds the introduction of new drugs is well-intended. The American FDA and the Australian TGA were set up to protect the public from new drugs that might have dangerous side-effects. The result is that it now takes many years of research and trolleys-full of legal paperwork to get a drug approved. The vast expenditure that the approval process now requires ($300 million is a ballpark figure) means, however, that it is no longer worthwhile for anybody to introduce a new drug that fixes a rare illness or disorder. There just will never be enough "customers" to ever pay off the costs of getting the drug approved.

And even drugs that could help many people now take years to get approval. A wait of 8-10 years for a drug to get through all the regulatory requirements is now common. So people can spend years in discomfort or even die while they are waiting for a drug to be approved that could help them.

This is of course an old story to many conservatives. As Tim Gillin writes:

My favourite example of the impact of this 'science review' red tape is the Thalidomide case in the US. The wholly correct public concern over this drug (no drug is bad in itself: it was used too widely) led to new screening processes that added a couple of years delay to the release of all new drugs. Thousands of people have died as a result of being deprived of useful drugs already in existence as a result of this "green" tape. Had the Thalidomide rules been in place when penicillin was released tens of thousands of lives could have been needlessly lost. This is why green quackery is so dangerous. (see Dr Sam Peltzman's arguments reproduced here)

So what is to be done? I think there is obviously an "escape clause" needed to help those who are being denied helpful medication by all the red tape. A simple provision that a specialist doctor could prescribe any drug he wished as long as he had warned the patient concerned of the risks involved would probably do the trick.

Tim did not mention it but perhaps I should: Thalidomide happens to be one of the best treatments there is for leprosy!



On 13 November last year I made the point that the current North Korean regime is much more accurately described as Fascist rather than Communist -- as it has always combined socialism with a strident nationalism -- whereas Communism was at least in theory an "international" form of socialism. The latest account of the North Korean system given by Cinderella Bloggerfeller very much reinforces that point -- attributing the survival of the regime to its adding of nationalist appeals to its socialist message -- the explanation that I also put forward. With its extreme nationalism, extreme socialism, and Godlike leader, Kim Jong Il's North Korea with its doctrine of Juche is then essentially indistinguishable from Hitler's Nazi Germany or the Fascist Italy of Mussolini.

The central North Korean doctrine of Juche translates roughly as "national self-reliance" -- a doctrine more generally known as autarky. The Southern European Fascist States (Mussolini's Italy, Franco's Spain and Salazar's Portugal) were also of course much enamoured of that idea -- and also with impoverishing results.

I think it is therefore an interesting demonstration of how little real difference there is between Communism and Fascism that for over 50 years the whole world has not noticed that North Korea was from the beginning Fascist rather than Communist. What a big lie it therefore is when Nazism and Fascism are generally to this day referred to as Right-wing! Only from a classical Communist perspective is there anything Rightist about Fascism or Nazism. Fascism and Nazism WERE somewhat to the Right of Stalin's Russia but were to the Left of just about everyone else.



I mentioned recently the practice of slavery in the Islamic world. Here is a link that tells you a lot more on that topic -- including the fact that slavery still exists to this day in some Islamic countries. A lovely lot, those Muslims!



I drew attention yesterday to an article by Miranda Devine which pointed out how Greenie opposition to backburning by firefighters had not only killed people in Australia but killed lots of animals too.

A reader has drawn my attention to the fact that there was a related incident in the USA some time ago in which firefighters died while bureaucratic permission was sought for firefighters to draw water from a lake that contained "endangered" fish. The regulations did kindly allow such "emergency" actions but the time it took for everyone to figure that out caused the deaths.



Anybody who thinks that President Bush has any choice over Iraq needs to step into Prof. Volokh's time-machine.



Michael Darby has some amusing thoughts on Vegans (extremist vegetarians) and Chris Brand thinks that Confucius is worth a closer look.

China hand says that the arbitration and mediation system in China works well for business disputes -- despite the well-known limitations of China�s formal legal system.


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