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      Most Americans would agree that the drug problem is serious enough with substances like LSD, crack and methamphetamine available to our children. So how and why do dangerous drugs continue to find their way onto the market and into our streets?

      While individual doctors — and others — abuse the system, and are certainly a factor, the more fundamental problem is the continuous inbreeding between the FDA and the drug makers it is mandated to oversee. Instead of one monitoring the other, the two have become bedfellows. Conflicts of interest in the agency’s drug-approval process foster a regulatory approach toward major manufacturers which is, at best, weak-kneed and ineffectual.

      Freedom revealed in its November/December 1993 issue1 that at least five of the 10 members of the FDA’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee had conflicts of interest based on business dealings or other ongoing relations with manufacturers of antidepressant drugs — totaling a minimum of $1.1 million — at the very time these members voted against relabeling an antidepressant to give proper warning of its dangers.

      Even after exposure of such instances, reform seemed to have been the furthest thing from the mind of David Kessler, who announced his retirement as FDA commissioner in late 1996, shortly after controversy surfaced in regard to personal misuse of government expense accounts. Under Kessler’s tenure, which began in 1990 and ended on February 28, 1997, the sea of dangerous drugs on the market continually rose.


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