Every day, people all over the world are taking different medications to ease symptoms of illness or simply to increase their health. In the United Stated, we have the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) working to make sure that the medications we are given is safe. Since 1906, the FDA has had the authority over the drug industry and over the years has increased their standards to include stricter guidelines. These stricter guidelines have incurred several opportunity costs, the next best alternative that is sacrificed as a result of a choice. In this case, the FDA incurring a longer waiting period is leading to opportunity costs.
Having stricter guidelines and in turn takes longer for approval from the FDA and leaves us with several opportunity costs at the hands of the FDA. There is the cost of time. While the FDA is enforcing stricter guidelines on drugs, the longer the testing takes, the longer it takes to receive approval. All of this time could be spent testing other potentially life saving drugs. A second opportunity cost is the cost itself. Testing requires money. The longer the tests run, the more money is needed. This money could be benefiting the testing of other drugs that could be making a difference in the lives of some people. The most significant opportunity cost is life. While the FDA is testing a new drug, lives were probably lost; lives that may have been saved if the drugs were already available. These opportunity costs of stricter government standards have significant effect on everyone living in The United States. The FDA is one of the strictest drug regulating agencies in the world.
The concept of opportunity cost is very helpful for evaluating the stricter regulations set by the FDA. It allows people to weight the pros and cons more effectively. It also helps to visualize the cause and effects of decisions. At that point, we can see whether the original decision was the best decision to make, whether the benefits of that decision outweigh the opportunity costs. In the case of the FDA, the three potential opportunity costs listed must be weighed against the benefits of the stricter guidelines set forth by the FDA. There are reasons why these guidelines are in place and that is to protect people from potentially harmful drugs. The opportunity costs swing both ways. If the FDA were to lessen its testing time, then the opportunity cost would include the potential harmful effects on people taking the medication if it proved to be harmful due to lack of testing.
The opportunity costs of stricter guidelines set by the FDA regarding drug testing before release gives us insight into whether these guidelines are the most practical decision. When looking at the opportunity costs, we see the time that could be spent testing other drugs, money, and even death. Are these opportunity costs so minor that the decision to test longer is the best decision? The opportunity costs provide knowledge, which in turn help us make more informed decisions.