FDACommentary by Pete du Pont
December 09, 1996
Host intro: Sharing information about new drugs and new uses for old drugs in an essential part of medicine. But Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis says too often the government stands in the way.
The Food and Drug Administration's gag rule prevents drug companies from telling doctors how a drug approved for one medical problem might help another. While physicians can test drugs and publish their findings, drug companies are forbidden even from handing out reprints of the articles.
But in suppressing this information, the FDA undermines public health.
The fact is that doctors use drugs for so-called "off-label" or unapproved purposes all the time, maybe as many as 40 percent of all prescriptions.
And the FDA's restriction on drug companies' off-label information exchange endanger lives.
When the developer of the drug TPA, which dissolves blood clots, found it had other important uses for heart patients, FDA denied the company the right to distribute the information.
Despite overwhelming evidence that aspirin reduces heart attacks and strokes, FDA refuses to let aspirin makers promote the benefits.
Even though there's ample evidence some anti-depressants improve the quality of life after a heart attack, FDA has challenged drug companies that have tried to get the word out.
And the dismal list goes on.
Access to information is the key to good information and to free speech. The FDA limits both.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont and I'll see you tomorrow.
Host outro: Despite the beating it took in election year rhetoric, Pete du Pont says there evidence conservative social policy is paying dividends. Find out how tomorrow.