by Dr. Alan Inglis
There's an old saying that governing is a lot like making sausage – a disgusting practice you'd never want to witness firsthand.
Well, the FDA made some revolting, stomach-turning, Grade A sausage recently – and it showed again how out of touch the agency is with reality.
An FDA panel recently recommended that the painkillers Darvon and Darvocet be pulled from the market. And it's about time. These addictive drugs, which have been linked to heart disease and death when combined with alcohol and other drugs, have been sold in the U.S. for half a century. And they've been causing mayhem since day one.
What's more, there's strong evidence that Darvon and Darvocet aren't even that effective. They're weaker and present more dangerous side effects than most painkillers that have been developed since.
Should be an open and shut case, right? Except it's not. First, the FDA is under no obligation to accept the panel's recommendation. And the panel didn't exactly send a strong signal that it considers removing these drugs a pressing health issue. The vote was 14-12.
That's right – two dangerous, ineffective drugs were under consideration, and if one vote had gone the other way, there would have been no recommendation for the FDA to take action at all.
What really shocks me is that Darvocet continues to be one of the 25 most prescribed drugs in the country. The side effects aside, there's evidence that the drug isn't very effective! If you ever wanted smoking-gun evidence that doctors just write prescriptions for whatever they've been prescribing for years, without really keeping up on the research, this is it.
I certainly hope the FDA takes the bold and necessary step of getting these dangerous, outdated drugs out of our health care system. But I'm not holding my breath. This should have been a clear-cut case – and it came down to one vote.
In the end, though, the only vote that really counts is yours, as the consumer. If a doc tries to prescribe you Darvon or Darvocet, vote no. You'll be safer for it.