Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Drug Paranoia

While some of the criticisms of big pharma may have merit, the quick leap from a study result to a pulled drug is getting ridiculous. Granted, I think Merck was disingenuous with the public about Vioxx, but then there was a call for Celebrex to be pulled before any research was any reviewed. Now there are some conflicting studies, but there's an outcry among many for Pfizer to pull it. I'm not all warm and fuzzy about the world's biggest drug maker, but I think Pfizer is right to not pull the plug on it yet. Although they seem sort of unsure of themselves when they also decide to pull all of the consumer advertising. That was probably a legal move.

Fact is, we all assume some level of risk whenever we put a drug into our bodies. They're chemicals, after all. The question is always about balancing risk and reward. And we always forget to look at the macro perspective -- a drug like Celebrex has probably helped millions manage pain and live more rewarding lives. We have to balance the benefits to the larger group with the problems that something might create for certain individuals. I heard a physician on NPR today who said that aspirin would not be an over-the-counter medication if it was introduced today. Whatever happened to the libertarian spirit in this country? Frankly, I don't see it in either political party. It's either the FCC regulating free speech, the Administration regulating marriage, or the FDA having another knee jerk reaction.

-- Dean Gemmell


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