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HomeIllinois NewsOff-Label Drug Use During COVID-19

Off-Label Drug Use During COVID-19



UnnamedWould you try an unproven drug to treat COVID-19?  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has understandably not approved any drug for this brand-new illness.  A willingness to try suggests seriously rethinking FDA regulation of drug effectiveness. …

FDA regulation exists because many Americans fear that companies would market useless drugs to desperately ill patients.  The fear makes sense.  People lack the expertise to know if a medicine can deliver as promised.  Doctors may not treat enough patients to judge effectiveness themselves, and drug companies may offer financial incentives for prescribing.  Marketing could possibly offset research in boosting profits.

Yet economists have found otherwise.  Very few drugs on the market before 1962 were ineffective.  Why?  Insurance companies and hospitals provide an important check.  We may not remember how drug X was overhyped, but insurers will and may not pay for the manufacturer’s next drug. …

COVID-19 starkly highlights two competing worldviews among economists and policymakers.  One sees the pursuit of profit imperiling people unless checked by government regulation.  The other believes that businesses earn profits over time by benefitting customers.  The former view drives FDA regulation.  If we trust doctors in treating COVID-19, we should reexamine the case for FDA effectiveness regulation.



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