The FDA is Holding Up Potentially Life-Saving COVID Treatments

This latest FDA failure offers a painful reminder of how entrenched, powerful government bureaucracies threaten progress and harm society.

By Bradley Polumbo Published on November 12, 2021

We may already have potentially life-saving pills that can treat COVID-19 and drastically reduce the chances of death. It’s just currently illegal to prescribe or sell them, thanks to the Food and Drug Administration.

Life-Saving Treatment Options Are Being Held Up by the FDA

The treatments in question include a new pill to treat COVID-19 developed by Pfizer. The company says the pill was highly effective in its trials, reducing the risk of an infected patient dying or being hospitalized by 89 percent. According to The Washington Post, “The effect of the Pfizer drug was found to be so strong midway through the study that an independent committee monitoring the clinical trial recommended it be stopped early.”

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Another company, Merck, has developed a pill it says reduces the chances of serious illness and death by 50 percent and requested FDA approval last month. It is still waiting on approval, although it was approved on November 5 in the United Kingdom.

As far as the Pfizer treatment is concerned, the request for FDA emergency approval has already been submitted. We’re literally just waiting on them to get their act together and meet (virtually!) to discuss it, and apparently the FDA won’t be doing so until after Thanksgiving. This means that the Pfizer treatments won’t start getting administered until December at the earliest.

Bureaucracy at Its Worst

To be clear, I’m not a doctor, and I can’t testify that these treatments are, in fact, as effective as the companies’ trials claim. But what I can say with certainty is that with 750,000 Americans having died of or with COVID-19 and thousands more dying each week, sick people should have the legal option to take these treatments if they want to.

As the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney pointed out, “In the past 30 days, more than 37,000 people died of COVID in the United States, according to the CDC. Over the next 35 days, [the Pfizer treatment] could prevent tens of thousands of avoidable deaths. But instead, the FDA won’t immediately let Pfizer sell a drug it knows to be lifesaving.”

“This isn’t the behavior of a government set on maximizing public health,” Carney concluded. “This is a bureaucracy religiously devoted to its own tedious rules to the point of defeating its own purpose for existence.”

Indeed it is. This latest FDA failure offers a painful reminder of how entrenched, powerful government bureaucracies threaten progress and harm society. That’s a lesson worth remembering long after the pandemic ends.

 

Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a libertarian-conservative journalist and Policy Correspondent at the Foundation for Economic Education.  

Originally published at FEE.org. Republished with permission.

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