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Commentary

Painkiller panic
Alan Reynolds, Washington Times, 1-2-05

Reynolds points out that the riskiest policy we can take when it comes to drug safety is trying to avoid risk altogether.

Take the first and perhaps most notorious drug safety scandal, thalidomide. “After the thalidomide ban was finally eased for research, the once-infamous new drug has shown considerable promise in the treatment of multiple myeloma, leprosy, and AIDS.” Most of the time, the best approach with known safety risks is to restrict drug use or improve drug labeling, rather than ban it altogether. As long as a drug is still on market, researchers can study it and the patients who need it most will still have access to it.

Consequently, the rush to pull drugs with known safety risks off the market altogether often does more harm than good. “The hullaboo about questionable risks from chronic overuse of such beneficent drugs as Celebrex and Alleve may yet cause truly serious health risks if it contributes to the terrifying FDA urge to deny doctors and patients timely access to vital drugs.”



Project FDA.
  
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