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Can You Trust the FDA?

The lead feature in this morning's USA Today reports on the aftershocks of "Black Friday," a day in which Celebrex, Strattera and Iressa (drugs marketed by Pfizer, Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca) were found to cause toxic problems, leaving patients struggling for answers, Big Pharma on the defensive and the FDA burying its head in the sand once again waiting for the scrutiny to go away.

So much so, that when grilled on ABC's "This Week" program yesterday, Pfizer CEO Hank McKinnell said his company has no plans to recall Celebrex, its popular arthritis drug.

That same program also featured my hero and FDA whistleblower, Dr. David Graham, who said, "The FDA, I believe, is more concerned with getting drugs on to the market than it is in getting safe drugs on to the market. We are essentially no better off than we were in the days of snake-oil salesmen."

Although Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has emerged as a voice of reason, calling for an independent commission to give the White House and Congress recommendations that could improve drug safety, chief of staff Andrew Card questioned any need for one. "I support the FDA. They do a fabulous job." Oh, really?

Besides Celebrex, other drugs that have medical experts and researchers worried, and not a moment too soon:

USA Today December 19, 2004

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