Drug Risks, Off-Label Uses Monitored On New FDA Web Site

It's about time...

After all the public scrutiny and bashing from Congress, medical experts and the public, the FDA has launched a new and hopefully improved Drug Watch Web page to keep patients and doctors in the know about emerging safety concerns -- think Vioxx.

One nagging concern: According to Dr. Stephen Galson (who remains an acting director of the FDA), the agency will still give the mega-drug companies a heads up before posting new and potentially damaging information about the safety concerns they find. However, Galson says his agency won't discuss the results with the mega-pharmaceuticals first, nor will they have a chance to review it before it's posted.

To the good, the safety alerts already posted on the Web site report the risks posed by drugs prescribed by doctors for off-label uses, a disastrous and monumentally risky approach to treating conditions like Neurotin for manic depression.

Some call the FDA's recent move an incremental one, however, because it necessitates patients searching for such information regularly on the Internet rather than it being given to them when they pick up prescriptions at a pharmacy.

That's one of the many advantages you already receive if you subscribe to my free eHealthy News You Can Use, now distributed three times a week. If you're not a subscriber, I strongly urge you to read testimonials from patients who have taken responsibility for their health and reaped the many benefits from treating their conditions without costly and toxic drugs just by reading my newsletter.

Seattle Times May 21, 2005

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