Commentary: The Big Hole In The Drug Safety Net

It's almost a grim routine by now: After the Food & Drug Administration gives the go-ahead for a new drug, the product is yanked from the market when some unforeseen problem arises. In the latest instance, American Home Products Corp. announced on June 22 that it was pulling its painkiller Duract from the market after four patients using the drug died and eight needed liver transplants. The move came just two weeks after the hypertension drug Posicor was yanked because in some patients it caused other drugs they were taking to build up to dangerous levels. And it was just last fall that the diet drugs Pondimin and Redux were withdrawn after data showed the two might cause heart-valve damage.

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