Reciprocity is an effective and common-sense idea
Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have just introduced a bill that would implement an idea that I have long championed: making drugs, devices, and biologics that are approved in other developed countries also approved for sale in the United States.
- Amending the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to allow for reciprocal approval of drugs, devices and biologics from foreign sponsors in certain trusted, developed countries including EU member countries, Israel, Australia, Canada and Japan.
- Encouraging the FDA to expeditiously review life-saving drug and device applications, this legislation would provide the FDA with a 30-day window to approve or deny a sponsor’s application….
- The HHS Secretary is instructed to approve a drug, device or biologic if the FDA confirms the product is:
- Lawfully approved for sale in one of the listed countries;
- Not a banned device by current FDA standards;
- There is a public health or unmet medical need for the product.
- If a promising application for a life-saving drug is declined Congress is granted the authority to disapprove of a denied application and override an FDA decision with a majority vote via a joint resolution.
In explaining why he introduced the bill, Senator Cruz argued:
We continue to lose far too many of our loved ones to the “invisible graveyard,” as economist Alex Tabarrok has described: lives that could have been saved but for a bureaucratic barrier that rejects medical cures and innovation…
The bill I am introducing takes the first step to reverse this trend. It provides for reciprocal drug approval, so that cures and medical devices that are already approved in other countries can more expeditiously come to the U.S.
Alex Tabarrok is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He blogs at Marginal Revolution with Tyler Cowen.