NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 6, 2007

The withdrawal of Merck's Vioxx from the market in 2004 led to Congressional demands for tougher Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation and an explosion of litigation against the pharmaceutical industry. So it might interest readers to know that 80 percent of orthopedic surgeons surveyed in a new poll released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) think the painkiller should be back on the market.

More broadly, according to CEI:

  • Some 175 orthopedic surgeons surveyed by the Polling Company for CEI seem to agree that the FDA is generally overcautious, not too lenient, when approving new drugs.
  • About 75 percent say the FDA approval process is "too slow"; 60 percent say that "on balance" FDA regulations "hinder" rather than help their ability to treat patients.
  • While 70 percent said they favor changing the law so that unapproved therapies can be made available so long as they carry appropriate warnings about their status.

Lest anyone dismiss this survey as a one-off, CEI has commissioned similar polls of the medical community in the past:

  • A 2002 survey of oncologists found that 61 percent believed the FDA process was "too slow" and 68 percent wanted the ability to use unapproved therapies.
  • Some 70 percent of oncologists in 2002 and 78 percent of orthopedic surgeons in the new poll believe the public does not fully understand the "human cost" of FDA regulation.

This year promises to be an important one for the FDA, with the complicated Prescription Drug User Fee Act up for reauthorization and a number of Senators urging even stricter regulation under the guise of reform.  Congressmen could do worse than listen to what doctors have to say about the current system before they make valuable treatments even harder to obtain.

Source: Editorial, "Orthopedists for Vioxx," Wall Street Journal, February 3, 2007.

For text: 


Browse more articles on Health Issues