The White House is taking steps to kill the FDA reform legislation recently passed in the House of Representatives that would require drug companies to publicly post clinical trial results so that doctors, researchers and the public could review them. According to a report in Inside Health Policy
, the White House sent congressional staff an "unofficial statement of administration policy" that opposes this provision in the House bill. The blocking of this provision would allow drug companies to continue to conduct their clinical trials in secret, hiding results from the public and cherry picking only those clinical trials they wish to make public.
Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, issued a press release warning about this new White House action. Bill Vaughn, a senior health policy with Consumers Union, stated in that press release, "At a time when parents can't even trust their kids' toys to be safe, it doesn't make sense the White House would oppose legislation to help make prescription drugs safer."
Fudging the numbers, sidestepping reality
The White House reportedly opposes the drug safety disclosure requirements for two reasons: 1) It claims the public wouldn't understand the information, and 2) It claims the FDA has no way to validate the accuracy of the information.
Of course, the whole point of publishing this information is to achieve open disclosure so that doctors, scientists, medical staff and the public can exercise additional oversight on the FDA and Big Pharma
. Drug safety should not be carried on behind closed doors, in dark corridors, and through under-the-table bribery deals. The safety of pharmaceuticals should be openly disclosed and debated. The White House, it now seems, does not want the public to learn the truth about drug
The real reason the White House opposes this legislation, in my opinion, is that the White House is far too cozy with drug companies
. Big Pharma maintains strong ties with the Bush Administration and helped elect virtually every Republican currently in office. In return, the Bush Administration has worked to pump up the profits of drug companies at every opportunity: His administration made it illegal for the U.S. government to negotiate volume discounts on Medicare drugs, he's pushed for mandatory "mental health screening" of children that would result in a windfall of profits for psychiatric drugs, he has supported legal immunity for drug companies in cases where patients are killed by drugs like Vioxx, and he has supported the FDA's actions on banning drug imports and protecting monopoly drug pricing in the United States.
The White House, it seems, is heavily influenced by Big Pharma, and this effort by the White House to keep Americans ignorant of the results of important drug trials seems to be just the latest effort to appease the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of public health.
The core question: Should clinical trial results be made public?
Of course they should. No reasonable person would argue otherwise (unless, of course, he was on the Big Pharma payroll or making money from today's pharmaceutical racket). Drug companies should no longer be allowed to operate in secret. Doctors, for one, need to have access to this information so they can make informed decisions on the safety of pharmaceuticals rather than just relying on some sexy young drug rep who buys them lunch and showers them with gifts.
It takes a real crook to argue that doctors, scientists and the general public should all be kept ignorant of the results of clinical trials on pharmaceuticals. The idea that only a corrupt, industry-influenced FDA should be the funnel for all "truth" about pharmaceuticals is blatantly deceptive. The FDA doesn't determine the truth, nor report it... it spins the truth! Click here to see the CounterThink cartoon: The FDA Ministry of Truth
As stated in the Consumers Union press release:Clinical drug trials often show potential safety problems or serious side effects of a medication. Currently, drug makers are not required to make these trial results public, which allows them to play up positive aspects of a drug, and downplay safety problems.
Consumers Union is urging House and Senate negotiators to find a way to immediately make the data from completed clinical trials public, so that independent researchers can check it for accuracy. CU also urges them to establish a system to ensure honest descriptive results of the trials that laypersons can use, and to create that system in a timely manner.
A provision in the Senate bill that could make it more difficult for patients who are harmed by an unsafe drug to sue the pharmaceutical company also should be removed, CU said.
"To truly protect consumers, the final bill must require accurate, public drug trial results, and it must not interfere in any way with the right of patients to hold drug companies accountable in court when they are harmed by unsafe medications," Vaughan said.
Should the public be informed?
Now what about the question of whether the public should have access to such a database of clinical trial results? Once again, it comes down to a fundamental principle of full disclosure: If drug companies want consumers to swallow their pills, shouldn't consumers be able to independently check the safety of those pills?
Currently, drug companies prefer that patients know nothing about the safety of their medications. All safety information is currently filtered through the FDA -- a highly corrupt (in fact, criminal!) agency that in my opinion has no concern whatsoever for the health and safety of the American public. Thus, the very agency currently in control of drug safety information is not even genuinely interested in drug safety! (Case in point: The FDA voted to put Vioxx back on the market even after knowing it likely killed over 60,000 Americans!)
If the FDA is the "watchdog" of drug safety, then who is watching the watchdog?
As it turns out, groups like CSPI and Public Citizen are doing the job the FDA refuses to do. If it wasn't for lawsuits from groups like these, the FDA would have done virtually nothing over the last ten years to protect the public from dangerous drugs. The FDA only takes action after being hammered by lawsuits, Senators or Congressional testimony from its own drug safety scientists (whom the FDA tries to silence before they can speak out, by the way).
Giving the public access to an online database where people can review the results of clinical trials on their own would take the corrupt FDA out of the loop. Of course, it wouldn't stop the problem of fraudulent clinical trials, meaning most of the results published in the database would be false to begin with, but at least it would eliminate one layer of secrecy about pharmaceutical safety.
This is, of course, precisely why the White House strongly opposes the idea. Big Pharma depends on secrecy for its success
. If the truth about the widespread dangers of prescription drugs actually came out, consumers would shift to natural remedies in droves! The only thing protecting drug companies from utter financial ruin is a massive shield of deception that prevents anyone from knowing exactly how harmful these synthetic chemicals really are.
Notice that it's only after the fact that we currently learn about dangerous drugs? That's because all new pharmaceuticals are experimental, and they're used on Americans like guinea pigs
. Most drugs are simply not safe, and all pharmaceuticals have unintended side effects. These drugs are released into the marketplace for the purpose of creating profit, not for the purpose of actually preventing disease or making anyone healthier.
Thus, the House bill provision that would require drug companies to openly disclose the results of their clinical trials presents a real problem for Big Pharma. It's a serious threat to their information monopoly that currently allows them to sweep negative clinical trial results under the rug.
Remember this: Big Pharma, the White House and the FDA all want you to remain ignorant
about the dangers of drugs. The truth can never be allowed to be told, because the truth of the matter is simply too shocking for most Americans to comprehend.
And what is this truth, you ask? It's simple: The pharmaceutical industry is a criminal organization engaged in crimes against humanity. This industry is far more dangerous than any terrorist group, has killed far more Americans than any war (including World War II), and now represents the single greatest threat to the safety of American citizens. The number of Americans killed each year by FDA-approved pharmaceuticals is -- I kid you not -- equivalent to dropping a nuclear weapon on a major U.S. city. Think Hiroshima in World War II, but that it keeps happening every year, right here in the United States.
Ignorance is a very powerful weapon for drug companies and politicians. It is no surprise that both would vigorously oppose any law that might seek to end widespread ignorance and shed light on the atrocious safety record of pharmaceuticals.Click here to read the Consumers Union press release
on this topic.