“Now without Prescription”

Featuring Cato Institute

Having a government agency make consumers get prescriptions before they access drugs has surface appeal. Many drugs are dangerous. In many cases, the benefits of having a gatekeeper regulate access will exceed the costs. Allowing government to decide which drugs require gatekeepers and who shall be the gatekeepers, however, inevitably harms consumers by denying them access to beneficial drugs for which either no gatekeeper requirement or only a less‐​costly gatekeeper is necessary. Indeed, the evidence suggests that government‐​imposed prescription requirements do more harm than good. Government‐​imposed prescription requirements increase the financial and time costs of obtaining beneficial medicines and block access to safe, effective, and critical drugs—often for decades.