Andrew von Eschenbach, famous for resigning as FDA commissioner and leaving the agency leaderless on the very day that Obama was inaugurated (see Eschenbach Announces Resignation, FDA Staffer Throws Shoes in “Farewell Kiss”), is now employed as chairman of conservative think tank Manhattan Institute’s Project FDA initiative.
If von Eschenbach has his way, FDA will be out of the business of approving new drugs based on efficacy, but will merely rubberstamp any drug that won’t kill humans outright! In essence, the entire U.S. population will become non-volunteer experimental subjects. A drug’s efficacy will be proven (or not) in the marketplace.
Instead of the FDA asking pharma companies to complete “laborious clinical trials proving efficacy,” says von Eschenbach in a WSJ Op-Ed piece (see here), “after proof of concept and safety testing, the product could be approved for marketing with every eligible patient entered in a registry so the company and the FDA can establish efficacy through post-market studies.”
This is free market economics gone wild!
Currently, “post-market studies” are a undertaken to test the SAFETY of drugs as they are used in the real world. Such studies are not required of all drugs. What von Eschenbach proposes is to use post-market studies to test if drugs work as advertised, not if they are safe.
The problem is that post-market studies are NOT scientific because there are no controls to determine a baseline against which to measure efficacy. It’s easy to find safety problems because that does not require controls.
I am amazed that von Eschenbach headed up the FDA and before that the National Cancer Institute! The fact that he is advocating tossing the scientific method aside takes my breath away considering that he is now well-positioned in the conservative political arena and no doubt has hopes that a future Romney or Gingrich administration will appoint him FDA commissioner or worse, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services!