Category "Healthcare Crisis"
January 11, 2005
Money Buys Unsafe Healthcare Endorsements, Scientists Ignore Safety Concerns
You make an appointment with your physician for a previous traumatic injury, an injured knee. Your physician prescribes you a medication for pain and swelling, Celebrex. Since the doctor prescribed this to me, it has to be safe, right? Wrong! The ignorance of most individuals having complete confidence in their healthcare provider can and will kill. This medication is practically identical to Vioxx, a drug that was just recalled due to safety concerns such as an increased risk of heart failure and stroke, along with various other conditions. Why are these unsafe medications made available for prescription? Money.
The latest controversy over the safety of COX-2 inhibitors (Vioxx), this time Pfizer's Celebrex, coincides with the release of a previously unpublished internal survey by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
The survey states that nearly one in five scientists "have been pressured to approve or recommend approval" for a drug "despite reservations about the safety, efficacy or quality of the drug." In addition, two-thirds of the respondents expressed a lack of confidence in the agency's safety monitoring of drugs that have been approved.
Our government scientists are being forced to do the bidding of big business. But are we really surprised? There are more pharmaceutical lobbyists in Washington, D.C., than there are congressmen and congresswomen. Pharmaceutical companies spent over $14 million on campaign contributions this past year and spend more on advertising than research and development. The American people are paying for this patronage not only with higher drug prices but also in some cases with their lives.
It is time our congressmen and congresswomen put the safety and well being of their constituents ahead of big business.
The Senate will be confirming new directors of the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services; all three agencies should rely on independent science to create public policy. Nominees for these positions need to ensure the public that agency scientists will not be pressured to suppress or alter research that compromises the integrity of science.
Contact your congressmen and congresswomen and insist that independent science be protected from political abuse - or, who knows, the current drug controversy may be the tip of the iceberg, and the next life lost due to scientific malfeasance may be your own. Take charge of your own health.