New office needed for FDA

Associated Press Editorial

It’s not often that more federal government bureaucracy is the best solution to a problem.

But this may be one of those rare occasions.

The editors of Journal of the American Medical Association have called for the creation of an independent office that would monitor drugs once they are on the market.

The office would be separate from the Food and Drug Administration, which currently has that chore and is taking a beating for the way certain dangerous drugs have been left on the market.

“It is unreasonable to expect that the same agency that was responsible for approval of drug licensing and labeling would also be committed to actively seek evidence to prove itself wrong,” the Journal’s editors write in the edition to be published Dec. 1.

There’s a degree of truth in that statement. No one wants to be proven wrong and it’s not likely that folks who make an erroneous decision in the first place would be willing to call attention to that error with any sense of urgency.

Critics are saying that’s the case with Vioxx, an arthritis drug that some say the FDA was too slow to remove from the shelves once it was shown to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Similar criticisms are being raised about the FDA’s handling of Baycol. The cholesterol-lowering statin if off the market but recent studies show it posed risks to patients that were far greater than previously believed.

Well, if the FDA can’t protect the public from dangerous drugs, someone else should.

No patient should have to take medicine on faith, hoping that he doesn’t grow a third eye or start bleeding from the ears.

It’s obvious that the current bureaucracy isn’t working for the benefit of Americans. The creation of a new agency may be a bitter pill for the FDA to swallow, but public safety has to come first.