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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 13128

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: Journal Article

Vitry A, Lexchin J, Sasich L, Dupin-spriet T, Reed T, Bertele V, Garattini S, Toop L, Hurley E.
Provision of information on regulatory authorities’ websites
Internal Medicine Journal 2008 Mar 11; epub ahead of print
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1445-5994.2007.01588.x


Abstract:

Background: Several organizations have raised concerns about the excessive secrecy maintained by regulatory authorities around the world, in particular in the European Union, France, UK, Canada and Australia. However, limited research has assessed the provision of information by regulatory authorities. This study aimed to assess the type and availability of information provided on the regulatory authorities’ websites.

Methods: Regulatory authorities’ websites in six countries (USA, Canada, UK, France, Australia and New Zealand) and at the European level (European Medicines Evaluation Agency) were surveyed by two reviewers between October 2005 and March 2006. The survey instrument included 16 criteria organized in 3 domains: information on marketed drugs, information on assessment of drugs and information on drug safety.

Results: There was a great variability in the level of information provided. Several medicine agencies did not provide basic information on marketed drugs, such as the summary of products’ characteristics. Information on registration dossiers was scant on most websites except that of the US Food and Drug Administration. The European Medicines Evaluation Agency, the French agency and the Canadian agency released public assessment reports that contained only summarized information of registration data. Only one country, Canada, provided full access to pharmacovigilance data. The periodic safety update reports that companies have to provide regularly to regulatory authorities were not available in any country.

Conclusion: Information on which regulatory authorities base their decisions for licensing new drugs and the rationales behind these decisions were often not publicly available.

 

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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909