The View From Inside - Pharmaceutical Executive

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The View From Inside
Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach on drug safety, DTC advertising, FDA's culture, and how the agency plans to bring itself into the age of molecular medicine


Pharmaceutical Executive


There are people out there who are suffering and dying and whose health is dependent on what we do. At the end of the day, people are driven and motivated by that noble purpose. That may sound Pollyannaish to some cynics, but I tell you, I've spent my entire life looking into people's eyes, attempting to understand where they were coming from. I don't believe that there's anyone coming at this with anything other than a noble motive. That's been true of the pharma and biotech industry; it's been true of the industry that's engaged in information technologies; it's been true of just about every group I've ever spoken to—advocacy groups, medical groups, physician groups, it doesn't matter.

Now everyone else has a different stake in this and there are those companies that are addressing issues that have a bottom line or come at it from the perspective of meeting our public health mandate. We may have had differences of opinion, and sometimes when I'm in different parts of this city, it may even be a bit contentious. But I have never once questioned the motives of people that were on the other side. And from that point of view, I respect them all.

And I hope they respect FDA. There may be misperceptions on the outside, but I know why people are here. I also know that they're under tremendous duress. They have worked under very difficult circumstances, and it's my job and my commitment to address those things: to help develop the resources, to create the processes, and to communicate what's occurring within FDA so if there are misperceptions, we can correct those. At the end of the day, we need to do those things so that the American people who have placed their hope and trust in our hands will be confident to know that FDA is going to protect and promote their health—as this agency has done for the past 100 years. Even though the world is radically changed, we're just going to have to change along with it, but the outcome is going to be the same.


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