Science & Tech

Prying the lid off the FDA

1 min read

Daniel Carpenter investigates one of America's least understood bureaucracies

Even though asthma is responsible for more deaths and more hospitalizations than arthritis in the United States, the greater political influence of arthritis sufferers prompts the federal Food and Drug Administration to work more expeditiously on their behalf. “Why give one drug priority over another?” asks researcher Daniel Carpenter. “Well, the FDA has limited resources and they must make choices. What happens is that the better organized and more newsworthy patients tend to get quicker results.” Carpenter has spent many years conducting a large scale study of the FDA that looks carefully at the agency’s history, its inner dynamics, and its impact on the pharmaceutical industry and on public health. His ongoing book project, “Guardian of Credence: Pharmaceutical Regulation at the FDA” presents the results of his in-depth research. “There are a lot of opinion pieces and policy reports written about the FDA, but very few of them are based on rigorous theory or empirical analysis. My aim was to correct that.”