Richard Epstein: Let Cancer Patients Have Access to All Drugs that are Not Toxic

This is from Richard Epstein, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

At present, no drug can reach the market without FDA approval…… Yet once a drug reaches the market, the FDA has no statutory power to "limit or interfere with the authority of a health-care practitioner to prescribe" how physicians use that drug to treat their patients…… estimates for off-label use of cancer drugs run from 50% to 70% of total usage, and perhaps higher.

[But] As matters now stand, no off-label use is possible for any drug that has not been certified for some particular on-label use. That necessarily reduces the number of drugs available on the market for off-label experimentation.

Comments (3)

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  1. Ken says:

    Brilliant. But I would expect nothing less from Epstein.

  2. Linda Gorman says:

    And state Medicaid programs are trying to cut drug costs by refusing to pay for off label use. Some very sick people are spending enormous amounts of time pleading with the political committees who have the power to bestow grace and favor waivers on lucky applicants.

  3. Bruce says:


    It sounds just like Britain.