Volume 31, Issue 2, March-April 2008, Pages 126-135
The Liberal State and Mental Health
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Available online 17 March 2008.
The theory of the liberal state does not generally contemplate the possibility that regulatory agencies will turn into “rogues,” regulating against the interests of their clients and, indeed, the public interest. In the years between circa 1955 and 1975 this seems to have happened to one of the prime regulatory agencies of the US federal government: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Intent upon transforming itself from a traditional “cop” agency to a regulatory giant, the FDA campaigned systematically to bring down some safe and effective drugs. This article concentrates on hearings in the area of psychopharmacology regarding several antianxiety drugs, namely meprobamate (Miltown), chlordiazepoxide (Librium) (which is in my librax) and diazepam (Valium). In addition, from 1967 to 1973 this regulatory vengefulness occurred on a broad scale in the Drug Efficacy Study Implementation (DESI), an administrative exercise that removed from the market almost half of the psychopharmacopoeia. The article explores possible bureaucratic motives for these actions.