FDA Looks Back for Future Funding
Back in the day when the networks owned most of the TV attention, summer was a vast wasteland of summer reruns and horrors like “Battle of the Network Stars.” But today, largely thanks to cable channels like HBO and FX, there are plenty of good new shows airing fresh episodes during the dog days.
I’m getting to the point.
It appears the FDA may have missed the memo on this. A recent posting on their Facebook page noted that “health claims from drug and device manufacturers have a long history of being fraudulent.” Ok, fair enough, though it does seem to a bit of a blind side attack with little context. To my knowledge, we aren’t at the moment reeling from any massive new fraudulent claim from either. Sure, they happen. They’ll happen again. But why pick on Hagi Pipes? And why now?
Turns out the FDA is still really worried about bad industry claims from fifty years ago. “During the late 50s and early 60s, items like the Hagi Pipe were sold to ‘prevent lung cancer’.” The FDA Facebook post notes that its then commissioner, “used examples like this to get appropriations from Congress.”
Well we all remember the ads featuring movie stars like Ronald Reagan saying docs had told him cigarettes soothed his throat and the like. Way back, some got mad when it was suggested the earth was round, too. Big claims, true or otherwise, probably go back to the first caveman who suggested trying a wheel until someone clubbed him to death.
My point here isn’t that the drug and device industry aren’t above making fraudulent claims sometimes. But I believe those are the tiny minority. And I don’t quite understand why the FDA is relying on a summer repeat of a 1950s chestnut when we need to focus on productive ways to best enhance patient safety and encourage innovation in 2012 and beyond.
Given this economy, it’s worth emphasizing that the FDA just got a richly deserved budget boost. It’s time for the agency to take the high road, and get down to real business. We live more safely in a world today without Hagi Pipes, I’ll agree. But let’s encourage the FDA to focus on the here and now challenges.