The FDA: A Pharmaceutical Company’s Dream

The use of antibiotics in animals is a much debated issue that was brought up last week as the FDA made a recommendation to reduce antibiotic use. Apart from the recommendation, the FDA will do little else to protect the public from sick animal meat or even improve the living conditions of animals living in each others feces. As Mark Bittman sums it up in his article “The F.D.A’s Not-Really-Such-Good-News” in the New York Times, “This recommendation involves voluntarily giving up making money in the interest of public safety. Who does that in the United States? No one.”

The FDA doesn’t do much of anything. In fact they are so tied up with big pharma that they even give jobs to people who used to work with big pharma companies. Hunter Lewis sums up the working relationship the best in his book “Crony Capitalism in America”.

“The drug industry at one time was called the patent medicine industry. This is still the more revealing name. Drug companies devote themselves to inventing non-natural molecules for use in medicine. Why non-natural? Because molecules previously occurring in nature cannot, as a rule, be patented. It is essential to develop a patentable medicine; only a medicine protected by a government patent can hope to recoup the enormous cost of taking a new drug through the government’s approval process”.

“Getting a new drug through the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not just expensive ($1 billion on average). It also requires having the right people on your side. Drug companies know that they must hire former FDA employees to assist with the process. They also hire leading experts as consultants, some of the same experts who may be called on by the FDA to serve on its screening panels. Direct payments must also be made to support the FDA’s budget. All these financial ties encourage a “wink and a nod” relationship between researchers working for drug companies and regulators, who are often the same people, thanks to the revolving door”.

The FDA are a government agency that on paper should protect consumers but the reality is they do anything but. Thats where personal education on food production comes into play. Know where your food comes from and where possible buy local.


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