It’s rumored that Donald Trump will select Silicon Valley billionaire Jim O’Neill as head of the FDA under his administration, a possibility that is causing conniptions among the political class. O’Neill holds no medical degree, which many analysts view as an instant disqualification. But experts have been in charge of the department for as long as it has existed, and the result has been an obstructive bureaucracy that literally costs lives.
One of O’Neill’s chief priorities, should be selected, will be to streamline the drug approval process by prioritizing safety over efficacy. In other words, patients should be able to try drugs they think might help them even if they haven’t been solidly demonstrated as effective in clinical trials, just as long as the drugs are not poison. Current FDA officials are furious at this suggestion, it’s high time we tried something different. There are countless Americans suffering and dying because the FDA refuses to approve drugs that are legal in other countries. For example, medical cannabis is not dangerous, but the FDA will not approve it due to concerns over efficacy, even though millions could potentially benefit from its legalization. If Jim O’Neill can improve on the status quo, I’d say he’s a fine pick.