Drug Industry Not Completing Testing on Approved Drugs


If you are desperately ill and have heard a drug still in testing may be your best bet to get better, but has unknown or dangerous side-effects, would you be willing to take it? Or are you already on a medication that was put on the market that was never fully tested? According to Congressional investigators, drug makers are years behind in testing for drugs that have already been approved and are critical in treating cancer and heart disease. As a result, it is unknown if some of these drugs are actually beneficial.

In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration was given authorization by Congress to force drug makers to complete drug trials and fine those that failed to complete the studies. The FDA’s principal commissioner says this is something they’re still working on.

The Government Accountability Office stated in a report released on Monday that between 1992 and 2008, drug makers were asked to complete 144 studies associated with 90 drug applications. So far, only two-thirds of the studies have been completed. Of the uncompleted studies, 15 of them have been pending for the last five years and some for more than eight.

All 90 drug applications were reviewed by investigators and then submitted to the agency through a program intended to speed treatment to patients with life-threatening conditions. While these drugs may have certain benefits, researchers are still trying to prove the drugs are worth it. An example used is that a drug may keep cancerous tumors from growing, but there was no waiting period to show that the drugs extended life.

The end result is that a drug may save lives while studies are still being done to prove they save lives, or the drugs may increase patient suffering and wind up costing them more in the long run. If people can’t have both safe and effective drugs now, which one do they want? Risky drugs today? or effective drugs years from now when it may be too late for them?