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FDA does poor job monitoring drugs

Some questions are a matter of opinion. Other questions – such as, “Is the FDA doing a good job monitoring prescription medicine?” – actually have true or false answers that can be supported by evidence. The latter type of question is the domain of investigative journalism, rather than a question for the front page of the Sunday Viewpoints section.

The mainstream media have the unfortunate habit of confusing expository and persuasive writing. I respect that The News wants to present two sides to every story, but when one side is the truth, the other side is not just another point of view; it is a deception.

Robert Bate’s claim, as a paid spokesman for an industry-sponsored think tank, that drugs produced for American-based multinational pharmaceutical companies under substandard conditions that then slip through the cracks of the FDA’s lax regulation of foreign manufacturing plants are somehow safe is not an opinion. It is a lie. Presenting it side by side with reporter Whitt Flora’s work of journalism about how lax government oversight of foreign drug manufacturing is putting American lives at risk is an abjection of the essential role of the press in a democracy.

Giving corporate propaganda equal footing with objective journalism in the pages of your paper calls into question the credibility of your entire operation. Are you a newspaper or an industry mouthpiece? A newspaper would have simply answered the question, “Is the FDA doing a good job monitoring prescription medicine?” with a declarative, and unfortunately objectively true, no.

Michael O’Brien, M.D.

Buffalo