Bariatric surgery is often the most effective treatment for the morbidly obese,
and with a mortality rate of around one percent, it isn’t terribly risky…
Not terribly risky!!! I consider a 1% chance of death to be very risky, perhaps worthwhile for some morbidly obese people but when 1 in every 100 patients doesn’t make it off the table that is not good odds.
What I find most interesting, however, is that I don’t think that any drug, even one with net benefits, could pass FDA trials with a mortality risk of 1%. Recall that Rezulin was pulled from the market when 63 out of 750,000 people developed liver problems (the actual number may have been higher of course but the numbers aren’t even close.)
It doesn’t make sense to regulate one source of risk at much higher rates than another source, given equal benefits. It’s quite possible, for example, that patients denied risky weight loss drugs turn to even riskier bariatric surgery. (I am not arguing this point here, I am explaining why efficiency requires that equal risks be regulated equally).
So if it doesn’t make sense to regulate one source of risk at much higher rates than another source, should surgery be regulated more or drugs less?