Field of Science

FDA does, and should, stick to only science

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In a welcome reversal of a key politics-driven Bush era mandate, the FDA has approved the Plan B morning-after emergency contraception pill for 17-year olds. Previously the reluctance of FDA to approve the product had led a senior official to rightly resign. Not surprisingly, this decision drew wrath from conservative groups who say that the pill would "encourage promiscuity". This statement is rather typical of conservative statements opposing abortion and promotion of contraceptive measures in school, in spite of the fact that abstinence-only programs have been shown to essentially cause no change or even an increase in "promiscuity".

But here's the thing, and it should be clear all along; the FDA should stick to science and nothing else. Just as the conservative FDA officials during the Bush era were utterly out of line opposing Plan B because of political and religious interests, so should liberals also not applaud the FDA decision as a moral value judgement. The business of the FDA is to determine the efficacy and safety of medical products, period. The moment it starts to pontificate on the moral or political value of its decision its immediately sets itself on a slippery slope.

So just like the NAS and the NCSE should stick to demonstrating the evidence for evolution and lack of evidence for ID/creationism and not pass judgement on whether science and religion are compatible, so should the FDA stick to the science behind the approval of medical products. Not making political or religious statements, either conservative or liberal, would be in the safe and best interests of both the FDA and society.


  1. I about hit the floor when I saw the title. It's that second word that really gets me. The FDA does stick to science? Could you give me some data, any data to support that assertion? What is scientific about QSR/GMP... (i.e., If it's not documented, it doesnt' exist. You can keep making a junky product as long as it is consistently junky.) How about their scientific approach to food safety?

    I don't disagree with your aim, but you need to realize your statement for the dream that it is.

  2. When I said "does", I only meant it in the current case. Of course the FDA has a rather shoddy record of not sticking to science.

  3. I guess the problem is far more complicated since I imagine the FDA isn't economically independent, whether it gets financed by the government or by private companies there will always be issues compromising its integrity. Nevertheless, I completely agree with you, wavefunction, it should be strictly scientific.


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