Month: January 2007

Abigal Alliance v. FDA

In May I wrote about the stunning ruling by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals that dying patients have
a due process right to access drugs once they have been through
FDA approved safety trials.  (See the link for some amazing quotes from the ruling.)  The case is now on appeal and possibly headed to the Supreme Court and I am thrilled to have a role.

I am one of the authors of an Amici Curiae brief, a friend of the court brief.  The DC Circuit Court of Appeals made it’s ruling based on the right to control one’s own body:

A right of control over one’s body has deep roots in the common law. The
venerable commentator on the common law William Blackstone wrote that the right
to “personal security” includes “a person’s legal and uninterrupted enjoyment
of his life, his limbs, his body, [and] his health,”…barring a terminally ill
patient from use of a potentially life-saving treatment impinges on this right
of self-preservation.

But the court noted that a patient’s fundamental right could be rebutted if the FDA can show
that its policy of barring access to these drugs is "narrowly tailored
to serve
a compelling governmental interest."

The brief, submitted by Jack Calfee, Dan Klein, Sam Peltzman, Benjamin Zycher and myself, argues that barring access to experimental drugs does not serve a compelling governmental interest and in fact reduces patient welfare.

Unfortunately, I do not think that the Abigail Alliance can win the case; recognizing the rights that the DC Circuit of Appeals recognized would be too big a blow to our nanny state.  Nevertheless, if we can help the court to be aware of some of the tradeoffs involved with drug regulation that will be valuable and it’s also great to be on a paper with Peltzman.

Thanks also to Ted Frank and others for acting as Counsel for the Amici Economists.

I’ve been wondering how to title this post

Here is the news report (and more):

State prison inmates, particularly blacks, are living longer on average than people on the outside, the government said Sunday.  Inmates in state prisons are dying at an average yearly rate of 250 per 100,000, according to the latest figures reported to the Justice Department by state prison officials.  By comparison, the overall population of people between age 15 and 64 is dying at a rate of 308 a year.

For black inmates, the rate was 57 percent lower than among the overall black population – 206 versus 484.  But white and Hispanic prisoners both had death rates slightly above their counterparts in the overall population.

The post titles I had considered were:

So is this just an age effect?

Government health care works after all

Is the real world so nasty?

Involuntary paternalism

Prison is better than trans-fats

Facts about travel risk

…the risk of death for an 18-year-old male driver is about the same as that for an 80-year-old female driver, but both are safer than the operator of a motorcycle.  And counterintuitively, risk is higher in the mountains in summer than in winter…the risk of death for vehicle occupants who are 16 to 20 years old, on weekdays, is 13.86 per 100 million trips between 8 a.m. and noon.  But between 8 p.m. and midnight it is 30.51 per 100 million trips, more than twice as high.

Here is an article on a new web site for calculating the risks of travel.  Here is the web site.

The IPod purchasing power parity index

1. Brazil $327.71

2. India $222.27

3. Sweden $213.03

4. Denmark $208.25

5. Belgium $205.81

6. France $205.80

7. Finland $205.80

8. Ireland $205.79

9. UK $195.04

10. Austria $192.86

11. Netherlands $192.86

12. Spain $192.86

13. Italy $192.86

14. Germany $192.46

15. China $179.84

16. South Korea $176.17

17. Switzerland $175.59

18. New Zealand $172.53

19. Australia $172.36

20. Taiwan $164.88

21. Singapore $161.25

22. Mexico $154.46

23. U.S. $149.00

24. Japan $147.63

25. Hong Kong $147.35

26. Canada $144.20

Sappy thoughts

For my forty-fifth birthday we ate brunch at a now-in-slight-decline Bob’s Noodle 66, saw the excellent Pan’s Labyrinth, and I slow-cooked a Chinese lamb casserole for dinner.  My presents included a snow brush to clear the car — which I needed today –, a CD of electric guitar desert music from Niger, and Neuberger dark chocolate from Sao Tome.

I am not close to starting Civilization IV, I am slowly reading through the works of Roberto Bolaño, watching Monty Python on YouTube with Yana, and interviewing four job candidates in the next week and a half. 

I am continually reminded what wonderful readers Alex and I have — one of the best such groups in the world — and we thank you for visiting the blog and making our lives richer. 

I am already grateful for what the next year will bring, and now to ponder tomorrow’s posts…

Swing voters

Mr. Mancuso also put Mr. Uribe [the president of Colombia] in the spotlight by saying that militias
pressured people to vote for the president in 2002, when Mr. Uribe was
first elected…a document rumored to exist in recent weeks was published in the daily
newspaper El Tiempo on Friday.  It describes a secret pact in 2001
between Mr. Mancuso, other paramilitary leaders and 11 congressmen, two
governors and five mayors, in which those present agreed to work
together to forge “a new social contract,” largely in order to protect
private property rights.

Here is the full story, which further explains why this nation does not have peace.  The paramilitaries are interest groups and traders, not just guys with guns.  I believe we are seeing just the beginning of these revelations…

Markets in everything, plain stupidity edition

KUMHO Tire USA…December 21, 2006…announces the introduction of the world’s first fragrance automotive tire, the ECSTA DX. 
The project is the “fruition” of more than a year’s worth of research
and development to deliver an alluring aroma tire that replaces the
normal “black rubber” smell with heat-resistant oils in the scent of
lavender, and in later versions, neroli (orange) or jasmine.  Visitors
to [product is here] can find the nearest Discount Tire store or will ship them for installation.

Here is a link.  Here are more sources.  Thanks to Natasha for the pointer.  I guess it matters if you are run over by the car…

What I’ve been reading

1. Lynn Freed, Reading, Writing, and Leaving Home – Her message is that to be a great writer you must be brutal in exposing the truth and somewhat brutal period; a short memoir of female South African ambition, recommended.

2. Robert Irwin, Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and its Discontents – Western study of Orientalism was not always racist or biased, a useful corrective to Edward Said.

3. Roy Richard Grinker, Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism – One of the better books on the topic, by an anthropologist with an autistic daughter, most interesting for its cross-cultural perspectives.

4. Charles Clover, The End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World and What We Eat.  Yes the topic is "overfished," but this book stands above the others.  Among other virtues, it has a good treatment of which regulations and property rights management systems are actually working.

5. ESPN-NBA; there is more logic on this site than almost any blog, worth the price.

Why aren’t professors religious?

Robin Hanson poses the question, and Jane Galt picks it up, but no one dares an answer.  Over lunch I suggested to Robin that professors are supposed to project an image of calm and reasonableness, whether justified or not.  This means they will be especially allergic to charismatic religions, such as the so-called religious right.  Most professors who do believe in god will be calm about it.

One prediction is that when the only major religions available are calm ones (Sweden?), professors will be less anti-religious than otherwise.  Furthermore professors in the hard sciences, where answers can be proven right or wrong, may face the pressure to signal calmness to lesser degree.

Of course it is not obvious that professors are in reality calmer or more reasonable than the general population, especially once we adjust for IQ.  So their rage has to come out somewhere.  The further prediction is that professors are especially unreasonable toward their colleagues and competitors, and perhaps they are more likely to lose their tempers toward their children and spouses, or to behave more badly, once their tempers are lost. 

I really am calm, however.