Refereeing in Mainstream Journals

From time to time, I am asked to referee papers by editors of mainstream journals. Perhaps many people who read this blog are in a similar position. I thought I would share with you, on an anonymous basis of course, a referee’s report I recently wrote. Perhaps some of you might consider adopting this sort of reaction. Please give me feedback on this ([email protected]), both as regards this general type of response, and, also, specifically, if you can add to my bibliography of anti FDA publications. Here goes:

This is just another socialist pro market failure paper extolling the virtues of government intervention into the free enterprise system. I am tempted to say, reject this piece on that ground alone, since this is a very bad philosophy from my point of view, since I favor free enterprise. However, I do not take this viewpoint in this case. For two reasons. One, this is a pretty good attack on the system of laissez faire capitalism insofar as these things go, and two, I don’t think it proper for a referee to impose his political philosophy on an author. So, I advise you, accept this paper, with some major revisions. What major revisions? This author should at least confront the alternative viewpoint, the one that says the FDA for example, is a horror, a disgrace, a great inefficiency, etc. See below for a bibliography making this point. I don’t say the author should turn around 180 degrees and recant his socialistic position. I only say he should quote from this literature, and say why he thinks it is wrong. In that way, he will have a far more powerful paper than he has at present. Specifically, he should confront this magnificent quote from Tom Sowell:

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

Here is the bibliography:


Becker, 2002; Goodman, 2011; Gottlieb, 2010; Henninger, 1990; Higgs, 1994; Hoppe, 1993; Kaitlin, et. al., 1987; Kazman, 1990; Klein and Tabarrok, Undated;  Peltzman, 1973, 1974; 1987A, 1987B, 2005; Sardi, 2007; Steinreich, 2005.

Becker, Gary. 2002. “Get the FDA out of the way and drug prices will drop.” September 16;

Goodman, John C. 2011. “How Many Melanoma Patients Did the FDA Kill?” March 30;

Gottlieb, Scott. 2010. “The FDA Is Evading the Law.The Wall Street Journal. December 23;

Henninger, Daniel. 1990. “Will the FDA Revert to Type?” The Wall Street Journal, December 12, A16.

Higgs, Robert. 1994. “Banning a Risky Product Cannot Improve Any Consumer’s Welfare (Properly Understood), with  Applications to FDA Testing Requirements ” The Review of Austrian Economics, Vo1.7, No. 2, pp. 3-20;

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1993. “A Four-Step Heath-Care Solution,” The Mises Institute Monthly, vol. 11, no. 4 (April),

Kaitin, K. I., B. W. Richard, and Louis Lasagna. 1987. “Trends in Drug Development: The 1985-86 New Drug Approvals.” Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 27, August, 542-48.

Kazman, Sam. 1990. “Deadly Overcaution: FDA’s Drug Approval Process.” Journal of Regulation and Social Costs 1, no. 1, September: 35-54.

Klein, Daniel B. and Alexander Tabarrok. Undated. “Is the FDA Safe and Effective?

Peltzman, Sam. 1973. “An Evaluation of Consumer Protection Legislation: The 1962 Drug Amendments.” The Journal of Political Economy. Vol. 81, No. 5, Sept-Oct, pp. 1049-1091

Peltzman, Sam. 1974. Regulation of Pharmaceutical Innovation: The 1962 Amendments. Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

Peltzman, Sam. 1987a. Regulation and Health: The Case of Mandatory Prescriptions and an Extension. Managerial and Decision Economics 8(1): 41–6.

Peltzman, Sam. 1987b. The Health Effects of Mandatory Prescriptions. Journal of Law and Economics 30(2): 207–38.

Peltzman, Sam. 2005. Regulation and the Natural Progress of Opulence. Washington: AEI-Brookings Joint Center on Regulatory Studies, pp. 15–6.

Sardi, Bill. 2007. “The FDA has blood on its hands.” May 16;

Spiro, Andreas. 2012. “What Do Ron Paul, Northwest Biotherapeutics, And Novartis Have In Common?” September 12;

Steinreich, Dale. 2005. “Playing God at the FDA.” May 2;


11:19 am on March 30, 2014