My Thank You to David Theroux


I was deeply saddened to hear that David Theroux recently passed away. Being a huge fan of the Independent Institute since college and someone who benefited from David’s encouragement and support for years, the loss is especially difficult.

I first met David shortly after getting my first academic job at San Jose State University in 2017. Knowing the Independent Institute was nearby, I sheepishly asked a mutual contact to see if David would meet with me. David graciously made time.

He asked me about my research after introducing me to much of his staff and giving me a tour of the building (including the spot where MC Hammer recorded some of his albums). I told him I had recently completed my dissertation on Self-Regulation in Pharmaceutical Markets. His polite question became a long and highly fruitful conversation. I quickly realized David could have written my dissertation better.

I left the meeting with an invitation to write popular articles Independent Institute. I’ve been joyfully doing it ever since.

My time in the bay area was short. I moved to the Midwest to work at North Dakota State University- a job I got partially for writing popular articles. Had it not been for David, I might still be in California traffic.

David later asked me if I would be interested in directing, an educational resource I frequented almost daily during my graduate studies. It was an incredible honor that I happily accepted.

The Independent Institute is one of the few organizations to monitor the Food and Drug Administration’s actions and expanded powers after most academic research turned elsewhere in the early 2000s. David, in particular, understood the FDA’s pattern of preventing risky but beneficial medical goods from reaching the market was a recipe for disaster. The agency’s widespread demand to deregulate during the Covid-19 pandemic provides just one example.

Anyone who knew David could speak volumes about his generosity, enthusiasm, and leadership. Fewer know how well-read and invested David was in bringing free markets to healthcare. I’ll never forget our emails and conversations on right-to-try laws, the FDA’s latest blunder, the role of markets in battling Covid-19, rampant cronyism, and how to best make a case for liberty even when the battle seemed lost. In our last conversation, David asked me about the consequences of the government-private sector alliance made to bring a Covid-19 vaccine to market. His sense that something was amiss is now one of my biggest research projects.

My career would be radically different if not for David Theroux. I wish I had conversed with him more and had a chance to thank him for all he did to further the cause of free markets in healthcare. That can never be replaced.