While researching the effects of Saint John’s wort (a plant with bio-chemical effects similar to pharmaceutical antidepressants), it’s come up a few times: regulation of this potent herbal medicine. What would be the impact of regulation? Potentially better quality, more standardized and consistent potency, higher cost, and greater difficulty in obtaining the drug.
Monthly (or even weekly) visits to a doctor (psychiatrist), which takes time; a “permanent record” in the form of clinical diagnosis of major depression (not great if you need to purchase insurance on the open market); higher cost if you have to pay out of pocket (a month’s supply will cost somewhere between $100 and $200, estimating based on price tag of pharmaceutical equivalents).
There are pros and cons of regulation. For those who can afford the above, who don’t mind the time required and inconvenience associated with doctor visits, who aren’t worried about suspicions aroused by “on-going doctor appointments” of one’s employer, and who aren’t concerned about a supply disruption (if the drug goes off the market, if one has to find a new doctor due to a move or insurance change, etc), then I suppose it’s fine. But for the rest of us (me included), the result would be a more difficult battle with anxiety and depression, needlessly, in my not-at-all-humble opinion, as I probably wound’t be taking the medicine at all.
Regulation meant to protect us from bad drugs is one thing. Clinical standards and drug testing might be advisable. But restricting one’s access to a (non-addictive) drug poses a separate question. That’s not to say there’s an easy or exception-less answer; just saying that there’s a cost to making drugs harder to obtain, and one of those costs is needless suffering for those who don’t get the drug, and higher costs (out-of-pocket or transferred costs to others) for those who do take it.
Solution? Regulation that protects and informs us but without needless restrictions on informed users of the drugs.