The corruption of money

rightly lays blame for our current crisis in pharmaceuticals in the lap of the FDA.

Mar 14, 2005
David Reinhardt(askdrdave@earthlink.net)

Your recent article, "Who's Minding the Drug Store?"1 rightly lays blame for our current crisis in pharmaceuticals in the lap of the FDA. Corrupted employees will always be a problem in our society, however, whether working for Big Pharma or the government. May I suggest three changes that would do far more than chastising the FDA and NIH?

First, change the FDA Med-Watch program to allow for more comprehensive tracking of postmarketing adverse side effects. As it stands, MedWatch tracks only death and threat of death effects. Establish a database where physicians and patients can report all adverse events with minimal red tape. Institute 3- or 5-year reviews.

Second, remove Big Pharma from the physician-education system. Require an academic approach to physician continuing education, stripping away "give-away" CEUs [continuing education units] and perks in exchange for listening to drug sales pitches. Block vested interests from offering CEUs.

Third, encourage medical schools to require training in statistics and study design to better equip physicians to critically assess what they are being told. We cannot rely on the FDA to protect us from ignorance. We must become better-educated physicians and patients.