ER Physicians: “FDA is Too Slow”

WASHINGTON, DC, October 29, 1999—A new nationwide poll of emergency room physicians sponsored by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) finds that delays in FDA approval of new drugs and medical devices is viewed as a serious problem by a majority of these specialists. “Despite recent changes, doctors remain dissatisfied with the slow place of the FDA approval process,” said CEI policy analyst Gregory Conko. “These results and the results of our polls of other medical specialists show that doctors think the FDA approval process costs lives by denying patients the treatments they need.”

Highlights of the poll include:

    • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents believe that the FDA is too slow in approving new drugs and devices;
    • More than half (51%) believe that the additional time it takes to approve new drugs and devices cost lives by forcing patients to go without potentially beneficial treatments;
    • Four out of five (82%) said that the FDA should not restrict information about “off-label” uses of drugs or devices that have been approved for other uses;
    • Nearly seven out of every ten respondents (69%) said that they favor changing federal law so that unapproved drugs and devices could be made available to physicians as long as they carried a warning about their unapproved status.

A bi-partisan group of congressmen have expressed their support of the findings presented in CEI’s four polls. “The bottom line results from these surveys shows that the FDA should shape-up or get out of the way,” commented Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR). “Who is the FDA serving by preventing desperately ill patients from trying new and effective treatments?”

The survey included 200 respondents and has a +4.9 percent margin of error. Three previous CEI polls – one of neurologists and neurosurgeons in October of 1998, one of cardiologists, completed in July 1996, and one of cancer specialists, completed in August 1995 – found similar results on each of these points, even after several legislative and policy changes, such as the FDA Modernization Act, designed to expedite the approval process.

CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information or a copy of this, or the other three polls, contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010.