Econlog tells the story of how the FDA is blocking a drug for Restless Leg Syndrome because massive doses caused cancer in a few rats. Millions of humans have taken the drug with no ill effect, but let a few rats dies, and the FDA refuses to approve it for a new use.
This reminded me of a story I meant to point out from the winter Olympics. I think many people saw the US Bobsled team win the gold, piloted by Steve Holcomb. Perhaps you heard the story of how Holcomb would have had to give up the sport several years ago due to a vision disorder until a new operation restored his sight. But note the clause I have bolded:
Traditional corneal surgery would have left his eyes susceptible to damage from a jarring bobsled run. So last March he underwent a radical procedure, yet to be approved by the FDA, in which doctors implanted a lens behind each iris. When he woke from the surgery, Holcomb immediately noticed the detail of the palm trees in one of the posters on his doctor's wall. "An hour before, I didn't even know there were posters," he says. "It was a new world."
I wonder how many hoops he had to jump through to get the operation, and whether average people who are not on the Olympic team would have been able to get the same benefits.