Consumer protection against harm

(This is an archived page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book.  Current versions are at book contents).

Some regulation of product health and safety is necessary for the protection of consumers, for example to ensure that drugs won’t kill people.  There are obvious moral and political reasons for such regulation, but there are economic benefits as well.  Consumer confidence is an important driver of economic growth: people are more likely to buy things if they can get their money back on defective items and if health and safety regulations apply.

With drug testing, there is a balance to be struck between taking risks and delaying the availability of valuable new medicines.  An article published in April 2016, entitled Drugs, Devices, and the FDA, described the mission of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as including “ensuring that new medical treatments reach the public as quickly as possible while simultaneously ensuring that new treatments are both safe and effective”.