Friday, August 12, 2005

How the FDA Really Evaluates Drugs

I just realized something about how the FDA evaluates drugs.

Essentially, they look at two numbers.

A. How many people had their symptoms reduced with this drug?
B. And, how many people died or got sick/worse on this drug.

If A is a bigger number than B, they say it's a good drug. I oversimplify, of course, but that's about it.

In the case of Vioxx, there were over 55,000 deaths, right? But if there were at least 60,000 people who had relief from arthritic pain, the FDA thinks "Oh, that's okay then."

I realize that the numbers probably need to be a lot wider a margin than that for the FDA to okay a drug, but it's the underlying logic that I question.

Why do drugs need to kill people at all? If a drug kills even a few of its recipients, shouldn't we throw it out and try again?

But the FDA can't use this line of thinking, because that would throw out almost every drug in existence. They all kill people, to varying degrees. Even Tylenol and aspirin.

But then we'd all have to "make do" with herbs, vitamins and lifestyle changes. Too bad, huh?

Or, we could all just skip the whole "drugs killing people" part and move right on to the herbs, vitamins and lifestyle changes to stay healthy and to recover from illness.

Just a thought.

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