Scott Gottlieb, the highly effective and well-liked commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, announced Tuesday that he would quit, leaving himself only a month to wrap up his plans like spurring the development of new drugs and regulating electronic cigarettes.
That news is likely to leave biotech and pharma executives, who largely adored Gottlieb, nervous at best and frightened at worst. Likewise, health care investors. That’s not because they thought Gottlieb was necessarily so great. It’s because the libertarian figures whose names were floated for the job before he got it seemed to want to dismantle the FDA drug oversight and review process, taking deregulation so far that even the drug companies worried. The question now is whether those names will resurface.
Dr Gottlieb did a great job in converting talk to action and this led to increased availability of approved medicines. I hope the next Commissioner can expand the FDA arena of what we consider legitimate treatment. We need to focus on “Alternative Medicine,” an unfortunate, ambivalent terminology, at best. For example, acupuncture has an enviable efficacy established and refined for thousands of years. Illnesses, especially chronic ones, impact all aspects of the physical/ emotional body. Treatment modalities impact the body differently and don’t need to be used as “either/or.”
Drugs work on the physical body, but may result in adverse reactions. Acupuncture balances the body’s energy fields and require more practitioner time than writing a script. Used together, some professionals have found a therapeutic synergy. This enhanced result becomes evident from increased effectiveness in reducing symptoms, unanticipated opportunity to decrease medication dosage, etc. Drugs are one answer, and sometimes the best answer to an illness. But far from always. While scientists explore in the lab for new medicines, doctors could be exploring the clinical world for synergies with treatments we have right now.
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