Second only to insurance companies, is my disgust with the FDA. I begin to foam at the mouth when someone says that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) serves to protect the public’s health. Someone will invariably refer to the severe birth defects associated with Thaladomide babies in an uninformed attempt to defend the FDA’s mission. The problems with Thaladomide were discovered in Europe, not by the FDA.
It is commonplace these days for the news headlines to announce that yet another drug has been withdrawn from the market due to toxicity problems. A classic example is Zelnorm, Novartis’s drug for IBS. It was introduced onto the US drug market with great fanfare and cute television commercials of dancing bellies in 2002. In March, 2006 it was withdrawn from the market due to toxicity and patient deaths. In 2000 there were reports to the FDA of 267,000 adverse drug reactions. By 2006 that number increased to 471,000 and the number of deaths tripled from 5,519 to 15,107. And there are almost monthly salmonella or E. Coli scares about our food supply with some food or the other being stripped from grocers shelves. The FDA seems to be lurching from one disaster to another like a drunk on a sinking ship.
Things have gotten so bad that the FDA commissioner Dr. Edward von Eschenbach requested a special assessment as to whether the FDA was capable of doing its job. The premise was that “the nation is at risk if FDA science is at risk.” The damning sixty page report concluded that the FDA “cannot even keep up with the advances in science” and that the FDA cannot fulfill its mission because its scientific workforce does not have sufficient capacity and capability.
The demise of the FDA as protector of the public’s health began in 2004 when officials caught flack for silencing a staff scientist who had concluded that antidepressants could increase suicidal behavior in teens. Other scientists have been pressured to soft pedal product dangers. That same year, they were criticized for dragging their feet in taking Vioxx off the market after it was shown to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The FDA has drawn fire for not speeding decisions on new drugs that could potentially save lives and ease suffering and for soft-pedaling problems.
The truth is that the FDA is largely funded by the pharmaceutical companies it is supposed to police. Currently, pharmaceutical industry dollars fund more than half of the FDA’s drug review budget. In five years that proportion is expected to increase to 70%. And, 22% of the advisory board members who vote on which drugs and devices get approved have direct financial interests in the companies that they are supposed to evaluate or their rivals. That’s akin to having the burglar feed the guard dog. Then, we wonder why the dog didn’t bark when we were robbed. It truly is the best agency the drug manufacturers could buy.
So, what can we do? The very best thing you can do for yourself is to do everything in your power to stay healthy or to at least become no more unhealthy than you are now. If you are taking medications for chronic illnesses, do everything in your power to minimize your need for them. Then, work with your physician to reduce your dosages or to eliminate as many as you can to maintain your level of health. Begin to pay close attention to your diet. Eating healthy foods is important regardless of your current weight. Get daily physical exercise. Begin a daily practice of self hypnosis. Hypnosis boosts the number of circulating immune cells thereby preventing many viral and bacterial induced illnesses. It also lowers and stabilize your blood pressure and blood sugar. And, stress…… enough said. It is amazing to me how many hypnotherapists do not do daily self hypnosis. All of these promote a greater level of health.