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Is The FDA Finally Growing A Spine?

The answer posed in the rhetorical question above -- as we've found time and again -- is that the FDA is too hobbled and too compromised from all angles to rely on any aid from them to help you make any informed decisions about your health.

Thanks to all the recent attention generated from the startling testimony of Dr. David Graham and the ongoing Vioxx debacle, however, the FDA may have stirred somewhat. Warnings the agency has sent to the mega-drug companies regarding misleading claims in various advertisements have more than tripled over the past 12 months.

Compared to previous years in which the FDA sent no more than five warning letters, the agency issued 17 notices over a year's time through the end of last month. Thomas Abrams, the FDA's head of Drug Marketing and Communications, claims the increase is a result of the agency doing a better job of monitoring drug companies, and implies not enough information is being released.

Before you get too relieved, those 17 warning letters are a far cry from the 157 the FDA sent in 1998, according to Public Citizen's Health Research Group. In fact, boosting the total number of warning letters got a whole lot easier for the FDA, compared to how many they have issued over the past five years, the group said.

Most of the warning letters issued have dealt with a lack of information about drug side effects and other risks in promotional materials for patients or doctors. Moreover, many of them failed to mention certain serious risks, while others used very small font sizes to mention them at the bottom of a page.

Yahoo News September 19, 2005

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