To think that members of this particular United States Congress think they can manage anyone else when they do such a poor job of managing themselves is unnerving, to say the least.
Overblown budget deficits, bridges built that go nowhere using federal dollars and remarkably fewer days spent on the Hill and more spent raising money for re-election. And when it comes to healthcare, we have all heard the refrain, ad nauseum, from those who opposed health care reform that we don’t want big government in our medicine chests…
That is what I was reminded of when I saw a letter from Henry Waxman to Dr. von Eschenbach, about the efficacy of nasal decongestants. It was accompanied by a press release. How many of you write a letter to someone and then send out a press release about it? This, by the way, is just one of the reasons, among many, that the electorate prefers governors as presidential material over senators. (Perhaps those lining up for 2008 should take note of that.)
All kidding aside, when there is a public health concern, members of Congress have often sent letters to the FDA requesting action and even have a duty to do so. It is not an unusual action by any means, and I’m not using Congressman Waxman as a scapegoat here (I am a fan – I used to be his constituent). But there is a concern in a post-COX-2 environment that is fueled by the energies of the current election cycle, that legislators perhaps might get overzealous in their protection of the public when it comes to FDA.
The agency has had a hard time of it. Dr. von Eschenbach has, with his actions on Plan B, signalled that he is perhaps interested in turning the situation around. Perhaps he has a plan for addressing outstanding issues. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle should give him a little breathing space to do just that. It will, after all, be a big task and one that he should not be distracted from every time a Congressperson sends a letter asking for action. Put all the letters from individual Congresspeople together in a bundle and what you get is micromanagement. Confirm him, let him set to the task of restoring the agency’s reputation and then, if he falters, send him a letter. But just for now at least, stay out of the medicine cabinet.