Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Government And Your Health

I wasn't going to post today. Then I saw two headlines in the Sunday, March 4 edition of the Washington Post: "FDA Rules Override Warnings About Drugs" and "Parents Question HPV Vaccine."

From the first article:
The government is on track to approve a new antibiotic to treat a pneumonia-like disease in cattle, despite warnings from health groups and a majority of the agency's own expert advisers that the decision will be dangerous for people.

The drug, called cefquinome, belongs to a class of highly potent antibiotics that are among medicine's last defenses against several serious human infections. No drug from that class has been approved in the United States for use in animals.

The American Medical Association and about a dozen other health groups warned the Food and Drug Administration that giving cefquinome to animals would probably speed the emergence of microbes resistant to that important class of antibiotics, as has happened with other drugs. Those super-microbes could then spread to people.

Echoing those concerns, the FDA's advisory board last fall voted to reject the request by InterVet Inc. of Millsboro, Del., to market the drug for cattle.

Yet by all indications, the FDA will approve cefquinome this spring. That outcome is all but required, officials said, by a recently implemented "guidance document" that codifies how to weigh the threats to human health posed by proposed new animal drugs.


Cefquinome's seemingly inexorable march to market shows how a few words in an obscure regulatory document can sway the government's approach to protecting public health.
Read the entire article.

From the second article:
In barely nine months, the first cancer-specific vaccine to win federal approval has gone from licensing and the enthusiastic embrace of dozens of states to a widespread backlash against moves to mandate immunization for adolescent girls.
...Never has compulsory use of a drug been pushed with such breakneck speed -- with concerted lobbying by its manufacturer. Never have such efforts advanced largely through political and legislative channels instead of medical authorities and public education campaigns.


"Why is this happening so fast? Why is there a mandate when this is such a different kind of disease?" asked Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, a nonprofit consumer organization that opposes HPV legislation. Most states did not add the chickenpox vaccine to schoolchildren's immunization schedules until several years after its approval in the mid-1990s, she noted.
Read the entire article.

Over the past few decades, as the cost of private healthcare policies have skyrocketed, we've heard a lot of talk about a national plan for health care. Do you trust the federal government to manage your health care? In my own case, I'm having enough trouble battling my HMO, which exerts a lot of control over which prescription medications the policy will cover and even overrides the recommendations of my primary care physician. And to get adequate medical care for my back injury, I've had to step out of my HMO's network because the few neurologists in my plan were clearly incompetent.

The articles cited in this posting show that the federal and state government can easily interfere with an individual's healthcare through government measures applied in unavoidable ways.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 3/04/2007 07:05:00 AM