A recent article in Men’s Health News highlights the misconception that many people have about the job that the FDA is doing to protect us. Amazingly (at least to me) 39% of adults surveyed believe FDA-approved drugs to be “extremely effective” and 25% believe that the FDA only approves drugs without side effects. Nothing could be further from the truth! First of all, the FDA relies on the drug company that is going to own and market a new drug to do the safety and effectiveness testing. The results then get reported to the FDA for review and ultimately approval. The review board often times has scientists that have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry – sometimes even the same company trying to get the drug approval. There have been numerous instances in the past of drug companies only supplying favorable reports; putting negative outcomes away. If the FDA really wanted to assure effectiveness and safety, they would do independent testing. Secondly, testing that happens is not long term – sometimes as short as 6 months! And, testing is usually done on people that only have the condition that the drug is supposed to treat. Folks that are on other drugs and/or have other conditions are not used for the initial testing. Why? Because that might skew the test results to the negative! The true test about safety happens once a drug hits the market and millions of people use it – that is when we start to see the real side effects. Anyone remember what happened when Viagra hit the market?? The FDA testing never revealed (as far as the public knows, anyway) the potential problem with taking it along with nitrates… and people actually died! Lastly, we have to recognize that there are times when the FDA approved drugs based on need, not effectiveness. When you look at the actual data for SSRIs (depression drugs) you see that they are not any more effective than placebos. Here is a link to an article that I wrote a while ago about the FDA, their supposed mission, and how they have become nothing more than a marketing arm of the pharmaceutical industry. And obviously they are doing a great job, as seen by the results of the survey referred to above.