Can the FDA Heal Itself?

A permanent director and a new safety panel may not be enough to bring the agency back to health

ILLUSTRATION FOR TIME BY ED GABEL

Like any government agency that has been around for almost a century, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has endured its share of rough patches. But "rough patch" hardly begins to describe all the bad news that has battered the agency over the past few months, from the possible suicide risks with antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft to the cardiac risks of pain-killers like Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra. Americans depend on the FDA to carefully weigh the benefits and risks of all drugs before approving them, but the agency has had trouble lately shaking the growing perception, justified or...

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