FDA reform, real reform, requires hard work, partnership, and candor -- not politics-as-usual.
As Matt Herper over at Forbes writes:
"One change that seems inevitable is the creation of more Steven Nissens--that is, more outside scientists looking over the FDA's shoulder. A Senate-passed bill from Senators Edward Kennedy (D--Mass.) and Michael Enzi (R--Wyo.) seeks to force manufacturers to make all study results public. Nissen was able to do his Avandia analysis because Glaxo, in order to get then New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer off its back, agreed three years ago to put drug-trial results up for public viewing. The bill would put all drug firms in this boat.
Think of this as the open-source FDA. Already outsiders have pinpointed valid safety issues, such as Vioxx. But open source can be an invitation to a lynching. AstraZeneca's blockbuster cholesterol pill Crestor was originally maligned over kidney worries but has since been cleared. Expect "a free-for-all" as academic researchers get more access to data from companies and from electronic health records, says FDA Deputy Commissioner Janet Woodcock. â€œYou could imagine tort lawyers running those analyses," she says."
Mattâ€™s article (â€œLynch â€˜Emâ€) can be found at www.forbes.com
"Still, big pharma is backing the Kennedy-Enzi plan, which would also give the FDA more power to change drug labels and force companies to conduct studies. New Pfizer Chief Jeffrey Kindler praised the bill in a speech at the Economic Club of Washington, saying drug firms should absolutely support a bill that requires candor about clinical trials."
And candor is something this debate needs. And honesty and a focus on advancing the public health rather than settling private scores (both within the FDA and elsewhere).
Nobody said it was going to be easy.