How Safe are These Drugs?

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Eyes are on the FDA today, for the first of three days of hearings. It’s meant to be a session examining the safety of prescription painkillers like Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra. But the hearings could prove to be more about the Food and Drug Administration itself.

As drug companies like Merck and Pfizer weigh the wisdom of deciding what to do, they’re being watched by patients and doctors and many lawyers. But questions about the FDA may have longer term implications. It’s been accused of being asleep at the switch when it comes to overseeing the safety of drugs, both before and after they’re in wide circulation. Its also accused of being too cozy with the pharmaceutical industry. Diagnosing what’s wrong with the FDA.


Jerry Avorn, associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of “Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs”

Kenneth Kaitin, Director of the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development.