Sunday, February 27, 2005

US FDA Mixed Reviews;
What is the Public to Think?

First, let me say this.  The world is better off with the FDA than it would be without the FDA.  Although the US FDA has no authority outside the US, its actions have significant effects around the world.  For the most part, those effects are positive.  Anyone reading the news lately is likely to have at least some degree of skepticism about the effectiveness of the FDA.  A recent editorial in Newsday indicates that public confidence in the FDA has declined:
It [the FDA] was the gold standard of trustworthiness, both for the patient and the prescribing physician. Even drug manufacturers impatient with the long process coveted FDA approval, for it meant their drugs were safest; American drugs were the safest in the world.

Lately, however, the FDA's credibility has fallen on hard times. According to a recent CNN-USA Today-Gallup Poll, nearly 40 percent of 1,015 adult respondents said their confidence in the FDA has slipped during the past year.
What the Gallup Poll does not tell us is whether the declining confidence in the FDA is merely a reflection of increasing public realization that the government is more pro-business than pro-people.  Still, if taken at face value, the survey indicates that public perceptions are becoming more negative.  To what extent is this perception valid?  I've posted a lot on the subject of the FDA, and there have been many news articles and editorials.  It occurred to me today that, despite all that has been written, there hasn't been any advice to the general public about some aspects of the controversy: What can you make of all this?  Are you seeing balanced coverage, or an artifact of the media echo chamber?  What conclusions can you draw about the FDA, based upon the media coverage?  Today, I try to answer some of those questions.  The full post is here.