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Warning: FDA Whistleblower Idolatry is Associated with Adverse Reactions

| Aug 1, 2012 | FDA, health, Justice, Law, Legal, Medical, Regulatory Compliance |

“Whistle-blowers” are invaluable and their right to speak requires zealous protection. But too often the whistle-blower is deified before he or she is vetted. Reactive idolatry of FDA whistle-blowers is hazardous.

The anointing of Dr. Robert Smith, an FDA whistle-blower, is well under way. Reportedly, his accomplishments at the FDA include “caustic … hammering away at his bosses.”  

I don’t know Dr. Smith, and I express no opinion of him.

This is the concern: The line between a valued whistle-blower and a disruptive blowhard is hard to draw. Jumping rashly at bait tossed out by a disgruntled FDA “scientist” can cost lots of taxpayer money and adversely affect national health care.

The FDA is too often underrated, and its naysayers too often glorified.

The FDA’s regulatory mission is impossibly difficult. It is underfunded and understaffed. Battalions of politically powerful second-guessers scrutinize its every move. Despite this, the FDA must routinely make critical decisions that have no “right” answer.

The FDA pulls off its mission impossible surprisingly well.

Less tolerance of “scientists” who are intolerable is good medicine for the FDA. Show the exit door quickly to “scientists” who prefer argument to collaboration.   While they were too divisive to work with their peers in government service, their ego-driven critiques will work well with their powerful new friends—from legislators to publishers.

Dissent is healthy and required, but bad behavior is wasteful. Strong clashes of opinion are the bread and butter of good science. The FDA needs confident and competitive men and women who challenge each other as they tackle tough issues. The FDA does not need specialists in orchestrating public scenes.

As for the discharged malcontents, we need not worry about their livelihood.  And, of course, they have millions of dollars to earn while they testify as experts in injury lawsuits, “educating” judges and juries on what the “FDA should have done.”

© Jack Edward Urquhart