The FDA Kills and Permanently Disables College Students

Recently, a number of college students at Princeton and UC Santa Barbara have caught Meningitis B, with some of them dying and others becoming permanently disabled. There is a FDA approved vaccine for other types of Meningitis, but not for type B. The vaccine for Meningitis B has been approved in Europe and Australia, but not in the U.S. I blame the FDA for those young students who have become permanently disabled. I feel this issue particularly because my son attends UCSB and one of his roommates was on the Lacrosse Team with one of the students who was victimized by the illness.

Critics of our regulation of medicines and vaccines have long pointed out that the FDA has a strict standard for approving drugs which means that many drugs that could provide benefits to the population are denied to them. While a strict standard protects against harm from dangerous medicines, it also prevents and delays the introduction of beneficial drugs. Getting the balance right is essential.

FDA critics have long claimed that the FDA standards are too strict in part based on examining the results of the agency’s actions. But they have also argued that the FDA has biased incentives. If they approve a drug that later turns out to be dangerous, the FDA is blamed for it. But if they delay a drug that is beneficial, they usually don’t receive much criticism.

Since the vaccine has been approved elsewhere (and because FDA allowed the vaccine to be imported by Princeton University), I assume it is safe and effective – and therefore blame FDA for the harm caused by the illness. But even if it turns out that the FDA is correct and the vaccine should not be approved, I still paradoxically believe it is appropriate to blame the FDA. It is only if they are blamed for not approving drugs (even if they sometimes are right) that they will no longer face biased incentives to approve safe and effective drugs.

Mike Rappaport

Professor Rappaport is Darling Foundation Professor of Law at the University of San Diego, where he also serves as the Director of the Center for the Study of Constitutional Originalism. Professor Rappaport is the author of numerous law review articles in journals such as the Yale Law Journal, the Virginia Law Review, the Georgetown Law Review, and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. His book, Originalism and the Good Constitution, which is co-authored with John McGinnis, was published by the Harvard University Press in 2013.  Professor Rappaport is a graduate of the Yale Law School, where he received a JD and a DCL (Law and Political Theory).

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  1. dr. james willingham says

    We are facing big government out of control, government that is heading for socialism whether of the fascist or the communist variety. Either one will do for those who have been seeking this solution to their desires for control. They have invented the dialectical plan of manipulating us between one party and the other until we will give up in sheer disgust or weariness. This has been going on since the administration of Woodrow Wilson, and the main agents of such work has been the folks who backed the Federal Reserve (just follow the money).

  2. DensityDuck says

    I’m sure the people at the FDA are fine folks, guided by rationality and science, who have nothing but our best interests at heart.

    Except…when did we vote for them? What ballots were their names on? What happens if we decide we want different people working there?

    These people make decisions that directly impact the lives of American citizens, and the closest they ever get to accountability is that their boss’s boss’s boss’s boss is appointed by the President.


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