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Deadly Delays

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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

The latest news on the pandemic is troubling. Cases and COVID-19 deaths have increased. You might expect that the FDA would work even harder to push to get more effective drugs on the market. John Stossel, in a video and commentary, talks about the deadly delays that come from a plodding government bureaucracy.

For example, Pfizer’s Paxlovid was found to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent. In fact, it was so effective, that the pharmaceutical company was advised to stop the tests. To many, it seemed unethical to not give the drug to the control group because it would save their lives.

Fortunately, the FDA moved quicker this time to approve the drug. That was an improvement over the 10 years it sometimes takes for the FDA to research a drug. During the pandemic, the FDA loosened some regulations to get medicines to people faster.

Why does it take so long? Nine years ago, I wrote a commentary about “nestoring.” Dr. John Nestor, who was a medical officer at the FDA, gained attention when he wrote a letter explaining that he would drive in the left lane and set his cruise control at the speed limit of 55 miles per hour. He asked, “Why should I inconvenience myself for someone who wants to speed?” His mindset explains why the FDA often takes too long.

Bureaucrats want to make sure that any drug released on the market is completely safe. If they approve a drug that hurts someone, they get terrible publicity and might even lose their job. Unfortunately, there is a great incentive to take time even if people die from a delayed approval.

These new drugs have the potential to save lives. It is time to speed up the process and save lives.viewpoints new web version

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