Drug Rationing Here We Come!

Dr. Scott Gottlieb was the deputy commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) from 2005 to 2007. So it was interesting to read his op-ed in the March 6 Wall Street Journal about some ominous directions in U.S. health care. He writes that FDA, Medicare and the Department of Justice “all believe they cannot rely on many doctors to heed safety warnings, wisely weigh new medical information, or follow treatment approaches that maximize health benefits or lower costs.”

His article, Prescription for Trouble, is worth a read if you have any remote interest in health care. That’s because the answer all these federal agencies have for this “problem” is of course that government officials will determine what drugs might be available to you and me in the future.They’d go about this by restricting which physicians can prescribe medicines and which pharmacies can fill your prescription. Risk management plans would have to accompany any new drug and these wonderful folks at FDA have even given it an acronym: RiskMAPs.

RiskMAPs are already in use with drugs that have unpredictable and potentially deadly risks but the agency and some of their allies in Congress, including Senators Kennedy and Enzi are moving to make this applicable to a much wider range of drugs. Dr. Gottlieb acknowledges that there are problems with some doctors not heeding safety warnings, but his article points out other ways to do it.

If you want a good idea about where this might lead, we have to look no further than the United Kingdom. An interesting story in the Daily Mail last week shows what happens when some people get the drugs they need–in this case an Alzheimer’s medication–and others are denied it by government bureaucrats. Click here to read the stories of two different families and how the UK government dealt with their illness. While this story out of the UK does not touch on RiskMAPs, it shows again what happens when the government controls health care. And surely this step toward RiskMAPs for one and all is a step in that direction, isn’t it?