Hythiam Inc (Ticker symbol HYTM) is promoting a new treatment for methamphetamine, cocaine addiction and alcohol addiction called Prometa. Although the three drugs used in the treatment have been FDA approved, the treatment has not been approved by the FDA for addiction control. Company CEO Terren Peizer, decided to market it as such anyway. He claims this is something he just couldn't sit on. FDA approval can be a long and tedious road. If this really is something that can break the scourge of addiction to these powerful drugs, it would be quite a waste to allow all of the suffering and misery that goes with them to continue when it could be prevented.
From Wikipedia: Prior to his work founding and serving as CEO of various companies, Peizer got his start on Wall Street. In his early career he held senior executive positions with the investment banking firms Goldman Sachs, First Boston, and Drexel Burnham Lambert.
In 2006 Peizer announced that Hythiam would be working with The Farley Foundation, founded by members of the comedian Chris Farley’s family, whose mission is to help spread the word about the need for addiction treatment. The Farley Foundation agreed to let Hythiam use the late comedian’s image in a now well-publicized awareness campaign. Tom Farley, the late comedian’s brother, joined Peizer in educating the press and public about addiction as a biological disease that needed to be addressed with medical solutions as well as behavioral ones. While the campaign generated a lot of attention, it was also criticized for its use of the late Farley's image.
This is an interesting case study for free market testing of a product versus a government pre-approval process. There are skeptics who say that Peizer is just trying to capitalize on desperate addicts and that his claims are overblown. While there are cases of people for whom the treatment didn't work, there are also many patients who claim the treatment saved their lives. I guess the question you've got to ask here is, even if the treatment turns out not to be effective, is it any worse than spending a month continuing to devour meth or coke or booze? In this case, I think market testing of a treatment is a great way to go. If it fails, no real harm done. If it succeeds, Peizer is a hero.