I’m out of town at a conference, so I have to keep this short.
Recently, a large number of toys were recalled from the market because they contained a higher than safe amount of lead in their paint. The toys were produced in China, where there isn’t very stringent oversight to ensure safety or quality control. Several congressman have decried the safety risk to children, and called on the U.S. government for more oversight.
The next day, congress passed legislation allowing the importing of pharmaceuticals from other countries so as to lower the expense of prescription drugs. Why are the drugs cheaper in other countries? Because there’s not as much oversight to ensure safety and quality control.
In order to be harmed by the toys, children would have to eat the paint in sufficient quantities to cause brain damage, and even then its not clear how bad the damage would be. In order to be harmed by prescription drugs which are taken orally and often contain toxic chemicals that are safe in small quantities with the proper treatment…. well… lets just say a safety oversight would be much, much worse.
This is myopic hypocrisy at its most basic. Either we need to protect consumers from imports, or we don’t. But if we do, then we should focus our attention on the products that can do the most harm, not cut corners when its cheap and politically expedient. I wonder who will take the blame when that first batch of contaminated arthritis medication sends thousands of seniors to the hospital… will it be the congress that passed the dumb laws, or will anger fall on the drug companies… I wonder…