Et tu, FDA?
So it seems the FDA is a puppet of politicians and drug companies after all. I’m sure the altmed brigade are creaming their shorts at the news.
There is some need for clarity, though. This is not a case of scientists being bought, it’s a case of administrators being bought. I’m not saying that every scientist is by nature squeaky clean, but most of the time they are not the root of the problem. Something the scientific community suffers from is top-heavy administration (at my university the science faculty admin staff outnumbered the research staff two to one) and dependency on politically motivated funding. They are subject to the whims of those in power, who are generally scientific ignorami. Funding is stripped from areas that are not politically advantageous – just look at the current US administration cutting NASA funding for earth science, even writing earth science out of the NASA mission statement, in an effort to subtly continue their downplay of global warming. Scientific advance is quashed by politicians with power but without the education to use it wisely – look at Bush using his first veto to drop HR810, a bill that might have made scientific use of embryos that were going to be destroyed anyway. Funding mysteriously disappears when a scientist’s results do not match the pre-determined result that the funders were expecting. Gag orders are issued.
There is no way that an independent research body will ever be independent as long as it has to rely on government funding, or on government approval. What is needed is a truly independent body, a privately owned, privately funded FDA run by people who have the interests of the public in mind, and who do not need to further their political agendas or pad their already-bursting wallets. Sadly, I doubt we will ever find such people.
At the end of the day, the need for an independent authority is only highlighted by the failings of the current one. There is a danger to just will ye nill ye approval of pharmaceuticals. When the rigorous testing of a drug reveals that it is useless, or dangerous, or does not perform as advertised, then those results must be heeded. It doesn’t matter if the manufacturer is a multinational or some hippy mixing herbs in her garage – there must be an independent body that can be relied on to tell you whether your drugs are safe and efficacious. At one time, the FDA was that body. I’m afraid they are no longer.
I’m not really sure who I’m worried will exploit this failing more, the alternauts or the money men. One thing I know for sure, its the patients who will suffer either way.