Legalize Dud Drugs

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

We should legalize dud drugs, Robin Hanson says, citing John Bradbury:

According to Engber['s article], Human Growth Hormone (HGH or GH) has little to no performance enhancing-benefits.… I have the benefit of working down the hall from several exercise physiologists. I forwarded [his] article to my colleague, John McLester.… “Oh yeah, I agree with [Engber]. This isn’t even controversial in exercise physiology.… There is no evidence of [benefit from bigger muscles]. It seems that the muscle that is developed is abnormal and not mature. I’ll point you to some studies (see below).…

Bradbury adds this interpretation:

The illegality of growth hormone actually promotes its use in sports.… The banning of a drug by anti-doping authorities sends a loud and incorrect signal that it works.… Therefore, I believe that legalizing growth hormone is needed to send the signal that it doesn’t work, largely to undo the widespread common belief that growth hormone does improve performance.… Think of the powerful effect it would have if MLB pulled growth hormone off its banned list. I can’t imagine a more powerful signal of a drug’s lack of potency as a performance enhancer. If we are going to be paternalists, let’s be effective paternalists.

Commenter Violet immediately made the point I was going to make:

Lots of non-performance incrementing drugs are banned in sports like e.g. finasteride. Another example would be Clomifene (which is used for recovery from anabolic steroids and block effects of estrogen).

It is quite widely known that HGH alone or in very large doses does not help performance (and may actually decrease it). However it may make training with anabolic agents more effective.

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