Other interesting info:
FY 2012 FDA budget= $4,360,281,000
It is also noted that this is used in
"overseeing more than $2 trillion worth of foods, drugs, biologics, medical devices, cosmetics, dietary supplements, tobacco products, and consumer goods."http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Reports/BudgetReports/UCM243370.pdf
Total # of taxable income tax returns (FY 2005)= 90,593,000http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/05inrate.pdf
So that's (on average) $48.13 per income taxpayer per year. Actually, that does not sound like a bad deal for this service. And there are probably more taxpayers now so it is an overestimate.
This is just a quick estimation. I realize the government has other sources of revenue that US citizens all pay for indirectly. I am also not taking into account all the money that is spent in meeting FDA standards, which are probably the strictest in the world (at least for drugs, ever since thalidomide). You eventually pay this in the form of higher drug cost, as well as money going to medicare, medicaid, social security, etc. I haven't bothered to add this up but it is most likely much higher than that $48.13 per year. Maybe someone else would like to.
If you have enough money and/or clout you can get out of:
1) paying taxes (see Scientology)
2) FDA bans (see Tobacco Products)
So, how much better is the FDA, really, than a private "certification firm" without teeth? I couldn't easily find a primary source for what percentage of drugs, etc need to be eventually recalled even after FDA approval (as a kind of measure of effectiveness). But that info would also be useful to this analysis.
I don't have an opinion on this yet. I am just trying to frame the discussion so that it becomes more possible for rational decisions to be made rather than endlessly arguing back and forth.