One would think that maybe after the third, or fourth, or maybe fifth drug that had to be pulled from the market over the last 15 years or so that it might occur to someone there was a problem in the FDA approval process. Nope. It took at least 10 of these recalls before our government got around to even making a plan to address the situation. Were the people in charge a little thick in the head as we used to say back home, or did they just not care? I'll report, you decide:
From a New York Times piece on the recently unveiled plan to stop having new drugs kill us:
the plan does little to address a problem that nearly all agree underlies many of its woes: a chronic shortage of government money. As Dr. von Eschenbach noted at the news conference, the agency has regulatory authority over about a quarter of the American economy. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the agency was asked to increase its efforts to prevent bioterrorism. Despite having greater responsibilities, its budget has remained relatively flat for years.
Rezulin, Baycol, Bextra, Duract, Posicor, Propulsid, Tequin, Redux, Seldane, and Vioxx, and the budget of the FDA remained relatively flat. Were they stupid or did they just not care? Wait, there's more:
The agency gets about $400 million of its $1.9 billion budget from fees assessed on drug makers. Under a formula negotiated with the drug industry, this money comes with strings attached. One restriction was that the F.D.A. could use little of the money to track the safety of approved drugs.
So, the entities that are supposed to be regulated put up 21% of the money used by the agency that is supposed to be doing the regulating, then tells the agency it can't use any of that money to regulate them.
Rezulin, Baycol, Bextra, Duract, Po$icor, Propul$id, Tequin, Redux, $eldane, and Vioxx. Were they $tupid or did they ju$t not care? The Drugmonkey vote$ for them ju$t not caring.
Some of you may be getting ready to pounce by saying there's no evidence the FDA has put less of an emphasis on drug safety in this era of drug company funding. Oh but there is:
The F.D.A. plan promises to return the agency to its scientific roots. It once had robust laboratories that conducted original studies to assess drug risks on its own. Those laboratories were largely eliminated in the past decade to apply more money to the drug-approval process and the support of a bare-bones computer program to track side effects of drugs.
Of course you can make up your own mind, but I'm totally going with the federal government not caring that new drugs were killing people. Because when the federal government does care about something, it doesn't seem to have any trouble coming up with the money for it. From USA Today:
President Bush's defense budget reflects the toll of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, proposing money to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps and replace war-damaged weapons and equipment.
The budget also proposes buying new weapons and spending $141 billion to continue fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan next year. Bush's budget brings Pentagon spending to $623 billion for 2008. It also includes a supplemental request for $93 billion to pay for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of this year.
That's an 11 percent increase over last year. When the federal government cares about something, it doesn't seem to have any trouble coming up with the money for it. It's totally looking like they just didn't care that the Vioxx in your medicine cabinet could kill you.
Wanna see what the $1.2 trillion dollars, enough to fund over 600 Food And Drug Administrations, that has been spent on Mr Bush's Iraq adventure buys? American media don't seem to want to show you what you're paying for. I had to go to the UK Guardian to get this:
The caption at the bottom of the picture says:
A student walks past bloodstains outside her Baghdad school, which was hit by mortar fire last Sunday, killing five pupils.
Proud of yourself? You paid to start this fight. If you split the cost of this butchery up evenly among every man, woman and child in the United States, it comes to over $3000 apiece. So far.
You Republican types have figured out what the real problem in spending taxpayer money is though. Over and over I hear the well paid people in my profession ranting almost to the point of foaming at the mouth about some baby momma on Medicaid. "Why the hell should I pay for their child?" Over and over again...the resentment of being forced to pay to help support someone else's child.
Being forced to pay for someone else's child to walk through blood to get to school bothers me more. I'm funny like that. I wish you were too. I wish you cared a tenth as much about the life and death issues of the day as you do about that baby momma trying to get some free Tylenol. About Big Pharma greasing the palms of your government to let safety slide. I wish you cared about that the way you do about that febrile child who was dumb enough to choose the wrong parents.
$300,000,000 will be spent to end lives in Iraq today. That's a good deal more than that baby momma, than all the baby mommas, are costing you. Do you care? I wish I could say I thought you did.