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Monday, November 16, 2009

The FDA is out of control

I had missed this story on Friday. The New York Times reports that the Food and Drug Administration blames to ban alcoholic beverages with caffeine, unless the manufacturer can prove to federal bureaucrats that they are safe.
In a statement, the Food and Drug Administration said it had told nearly 30 manufacturers of the drinks that unless they could provide clear evidence of safety, it would “take appropriate action to ensure that the products are removed from the marketplace.” Officials did not say how long such a determination might take.

The drinks, which combine malt liquor or other spirits with caffeine and fruit juices at alcohol concentrations up to about 10 percent, have become increasingly popular among college students. In a news conference, Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, the agency’s principal deputy commissioner, said their consumption was associated with increased risk of serious injury, drunken driving, sexual assault and other dangerous behavior.
I hope the Obama Administration leaves me along the next time I enjoy an Irish coffee. Or a Red Bull and vodka. (Okay, I hate Red Bull and vodka.) The FDA appears to be operating under the assumption that they get to arbitrarily decide where their regulatory powers begin and end. They haven't bothered to find out if these products are dangerous. They don't see any need to actually present evidence to ban the products until the prove they are safe. This
"Precautionary Principle" sounds like common sense, but it is actually an insidious way to ban any behavior that regulators don't like. Proving no harm is a huge, counterfactual burden for any manufacturer to clear. The FDA's failure to approve new drugs kills more people than it saves. Now, they want to bring that same failed approach to the grocery story.

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