The Food and Drug Administration has come under increasing criticism from independent group who say it is incapable of protecting the country against unsafe drugs.
You only have to look at the debacle over hormone replacement therapy and the growing abuse of prescription drugs to see how true that is.
Now the U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue and - inexplicably - it has chosen to protect FDA bureaucrats rather than the public.
The court issued a decision (February 20) that will limit lawsuits by patients who have been injured by medical devices approved by the FDA. The court has signaled that it intends to provide a liability shield to drug manufacturers, too.
It comes as such respect organizations as The Institute of Medicine, the Government Accountability Office and the F.D.A.'s own science board have all issued reports concluding that poor management and scientific inadequacies have made the FDA incapable of protecting the country.
David Vladeck, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, told the New York Times that the public is facing the worst of both worlds: a government health agency that cannot protect them and rules that block them from winning compensation when injured.
The fact is that the pharmaceutical industry has overwhelmed the FDA and most of the decision-makers in Washington, D.C. with its vast, no-expense-spared army of lobbyists. We see the results every day:
- A tidal-wave of TV commercials encouraging the use and abuse of powerful prescription medications, from anti-depressants to Ambien to Viagra. The result? Suicide is on the increase among middle-aged women - up 31 per cent from 1999 to 2004.
- The chaos and confusion after the 2002 Women's Health Initiative study that linked FDA-approved hormone replacement therapy to cancer, strokes and heart attacks. Instead of exploring safer alternative therapies, the FDA left the products on the market and never addressed their nepharious effects on millions of women.
- The decision to go after compounding pharmacies and ban the use of estriol - moves that makes no sense given the vast medical literature available on the subject and can only be explained as doing the bidding for big pharma which wants to crush the safer and more effective bioidenticals that hold no patent and thus no financial gain for big pharma.
We are in a time of crisis. In an election year, we need to look long and hard at what we want our future to look like. Do we want to continue being intimidated, victimized and heavily medicated? Or do we want to develop a system that represents the individual's best interest, health and strength regardless what the cost to big pharma or inept government agencies?