Health and Free Trade
For over 250 years, economists – even before they were called economists – have struggled to solve a problem: how to persuade people that trade really is positive and that restrictions on trade really are negative. This is one more attempt.
Let us assume that your physician informs you that you have cancer. The type of cancer that you have is invariably fatal. He utters those words that estate planning lawyers thrive on: “You should get your affairs in order.”
You go home. After thinking about your situation, you go online in search of a solution. You come across an article on a proposed new cure. There is hope. But you find that the cure is experimental. It has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The estimated cost of getting through the FDA’s legal hoops is $100 million. It will take seven years.
You do not have seven years.
Do you believe in free trade in proposed cancer cures? Now you do.
What if you could sign a legal waiver taking full responsibility for your actions? What if you are willing to let the discoverer off the hook legally for any negative outcome of the treatment? Sorry, no can do. That would be illegal.
Why would it be illegal?
There is a simple reason: “Because it would reduce the power of the Food and Drug Administration.” If every Tom, Dick, and Harry were willing to sign a waiver, then the FDA could not control drugs. This degree of open entry into the health care field would enable producers of health-care to get together with customers to arrange mutually agreeable solutions.