02 November 2007

Just in case you couldn't alread tell, the FDA is broken

F.D.A. Is Unable to Ensure Drugs Are Safe, Panel Is Told

The Food and Drug Administration cannot guarantee the safety of the nation’s drug supply because it inspects few foreign drug manufacturers and the inspections it does carry out abroad are less rigorous than those performed in this country, witnesses told a Congressional subcommittee yesterday.

The FDA is overwhelmed and broken and has been for a while. Fen-phen and Vioxx come to mind quickly, but its not just about drugs with side effects. This testimony tells us that even drugs that would be safe, might not be because we can't ensure that whats in the pill matches whats on the bottle.

This is one of the problems with globalization, not everyone has the same standards. That goes for quality and for labor. How do we make sure that the goods we get from other countries are up to the standards we want? One could leave it to the market to take care of these things, but I don't trust that invisible hand. It moves too slow and too often greed stills it all together. In the mean time people get hurt. Kids get another dose of lead, people die because their toothpaste poisons them, and drugs don't work like they should.

Thats why we have regulation by the government. The idea is that the only dog the government has in this race is the health of the people. But government can be just as big and slow and cumbersome as that invisible hand. It comes down to who you trust more. The answer for me is neither, but the government slightly more because my government is a democracy and I do have at least some control over it.

With lead painted toys, and germ infected foods we the consumers can simply not buy them or buy from companies we trust. In season we can even grow our own vegetables. But the drugs our doctors prescribe? Some systems you can't simply drop out of. This is where the regulation by the government must happen, and it must be funded fully. Our tax dollars should be spent protecting us and ours from those things that can really hurt us, not on searches for things that might hurt us if they actually existed.

(The key to doing this is finding the article the night before.)

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