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Source:
(1a) The dose is higher than is necessary.
(1b) The dose is higher than necessary. - without "is"
(2a) The dose is higher than the doctors thought was necessary.

(2b) The dose is higher than the doctors thought necessary. - my version without "was", analogous to (1b)
Is (2b) correct? If not, then why not?

Also: why mustn't we separate "the doctors thought" with commas?:
(2c) The dose is higher than, the doctors thought, was necessary.

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It is grammatically correct.

What you are discussing is called “ellipsis,” the omission of certain words that are presumed to be understood.

It is difficult to provide rules for what ellipses are permitted. Your 2b would be said by some, and understood by all, native speakers, but it does not sound particularly natural to me whereas 1b does sound natural to me. The only justification I can give for that opinion is that ellipsis sounds better in simpler sentences.

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