Regulating Pharmaceuticals

October 11, 2013 • Volume 23, Issue 36
Is government oversight strong enough?
By Peter Katel


The widespread prescribing of OxyContin and other painkillers known as opiates (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
The widespread prescribing of OxyContin and other painkillers known as opiates has left thousands of Americans addicted. Concern about prescription drugs ranges from the effectiveness of government oversight of the pharmaceutical industry to overuse of antibiotics and the resultant surge in deadly, drug-resistant infections. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

A scandal over mold-contaminated medicine that killed dozens of patients last year has added fuel to a debate over how well federal and state officials are policing the safety and effectiveness of prescription drugs. Innovative medicines have helped drive down death rates from such diseases as HIV/AIDS and cancer, but other drugs have spurred concerns about safety, physician prescribing practices and patient abuse. Painkillers known as opioids are blamed for a nationwide wave of addiction, for example, and the growing overuse of antibiotics has led to a surge in deadly, drug-resistant infections. Meanwhile, beginning next year, the pharmaceutical industry, which spends nearly $29 billion annually on product promotion, must disclose an unprecedented level of information about its efforts to market drugs to consumers and doctors.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 20, 2016  Prescription Drug Costs
Oct. 11, 2013  Regulating Pharmaceuticals
Oct. 09, 2009  Medication Abuse
Mar. 11, 2005  Drug Safety
Jun. 06, 2003  Drug Company Ethics
Sep. 03, 1999  Drugmakers Under Siege
Jul. 17, 1992  Prescription Drug Prices
Nov. 25, 1959  High Price of Drugs
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Medical Profession and Personnel
Medical Research and Advocacy
Regulation and Deregulation