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In Support of Ignorance
Promoting consumer ignorance is the latest campaign from Consumers Union (CU). CU is seeking "reforms" in FDA policy that would deny medical information to consumers and harm their ability to play an informed role in their own health care decisions.

CU is promoting a package of proposals that include banning advertising to consumers about new drugs for two to three years. After all, why should consumers know about new medicines? It's not like their own health is any of their business. At least in CU's view of the world.

At a time when consumers need information so that they can have informed discussions with their doctor, CU comes along and says no. The consumer watchdog group apparently believes that the common people should be more passive when it comes to health care. Their poor, feeble brains shouldn't be exposed to unauthorized information.

Of course, it's not only consumers that need to be protected from health care information. CU also thinks that doctors, nurses and other health care providers need to be shielded from information from health care companies.

The CU proposal would require FDA pre-approval for advertising to both consumers and health care providers "so as to end the long history of misleading marketing that overstates benefits and understates risks." After all, why should doctors know about new medicines? It's not like their patients' health is any of their business. At least in CU's view of the world.

Winston would be intrigued to see CU's proposal applied to everyone, not simply the health care industry. For example, under a CU-style Federal Information Control Regime, consumer watchdogs would be required to get government pre-approval before disseminating any health care-related information because of their long history of misleading statements that overstate risks and understate benefits.

Winston always thought that the purpose of NGOs was to provide not suppress information. Thus, he has trouble understanding CU's new message to doctors and patients: Just Say Duh.

  • Click here for CU Statement to FDA


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