Acne Meds? Your Papers, Schnell!

I usually break with my fellow libertarians on the issue of public health, especially the existence of the FDA. While government impositions of standards for safety aren’t strictly necessary (Don’t think so? Bet you haven’t looked at who certifies your fan won’t burst into flame: a private company called Underwriter’s Laboratories–the famous UL label), the health field is rife with fraud and by setting strict standards, the government is not out of line with it’s proper mission of protecting individuals from force or fraud.

But yesterday’s New York Times has a piece about why my fellow libertarians might be right not to trust the government to perform this function. If you get acne, you will have to register with the government [icky reg req’d] to be cured.

The problem with Accutane, a drug I once took and essentially a megadose of vitamin A, is that it has been known for decades to cause birth defects. My dermatologist, a guy with a permanent expression on his face that looked as if he were about to tell me I had two weeks to live and owed him $15,000 to boot, casually continued down the list of warnings for the medication and warned me, a male, not to get pregnant.

“But if you do,” he said, “I’d love to do the case study.”

Damn, that’s some good deadpan.

Anyway, the medication, like all medications, has side effects, and these side effects are extreme enough that it warrants use only in the worst cases that don’t respond to other treatments (I can tell you I looked like a Martian photograph, so doing any action that would lead to pregnancy was just not gonna happen unless I got Accutane).

So no problem. Just tell the women to either obey their god and wear a burka or disobey their god and use some birth control and common sense. Right?

Wrong. Apparently some people are idiots and would go right past the warnings. Some others, it wasn’t clear from the article, may not have been told. If so, that’s an issue of medical malpractice and in America, I don’t see this as anything that the government will have to regulate–people will sue if they go in for a checkup and they can’t play the piano afterwards, even if they never learned how. This is a self-correcting problem.

Not good enough. So the FDA put out advisories that you should put little labels on the scrip and make the patient sign a form saying they know the risks, and women of childbearing age should get two pregnancy tests and promise to use two forms of birth control (catholics and muslims, you’re just gonna be ugly).

But some idiot patients chose not to do that and so got birth defects. Was there a huge climb in cases? The article doesn’t say. But it does say that the FDA had a goal of zero defects all of a sudden. That is to say, they wanted to ensure that in a land of 300 million people, they want to make sure there’s nobody stupid enough to get pregnant while on a birth-defect-inducing medication.

To do that, of course, any sane person knows you’d have to shoot about 299 million people. That’s why we don’t do it.

Fortunately sanity-free at the FDA, they now want to make it mandatory that you get your preggertests and violate your god’s commandments if you want the drug, so to do that, they’re going to make you put in your vital statistics to a government database. With the security the government is known for, I expect this information will be available for about $5 on any street corner within a year, and the DEA will be using it to find new people to shoot in no-knock midnight raids.

And if taking away the last shreds of liberty you have doesn’t work?

Dr. Nancy Green, medical director for the March of Dimes, cheered the announcement.

“If this doesn’t work,” Dr. Green said, “we will call for the F.D.A. to take this drug off the market.”


Yes, the March of Dimes, in league with the Pope, wants to ban the drug so you as an adult get permanent disfiguring scars instead of as a fetus.

No doubt the March of Dimes wants to ban alcohol as well, because if their membership can’t contain themselves from doing a fifth of Jack every night while pregnant, there’s no reason you should have a glass of wine with dinner.

In other words, according to the new, zero risk regimen, the drugs available to treat your diseases are dependent on the wisdom of Britney Spears’s behavior while pregnant.

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