Drugs: THE SAFETY OF SYMMETREL

Ever since the Food and Drug Administration's careful checking procedures saved the U.S. from the 1961 thalidomide disaster, the agency's critics have accused it of becoming overcautious and of needlessly delaying the marketing of valuable new drugs. This week the FDA stands accused of just the opposite—of having too hastily approved a drug that may not be safe enough for widespread use.

The drug, Du Font's amantadine hydrochloride, is virtually the only medicine effective in preventing viral infections. Trade-named Symmetrel, it has been tested on more than 3,000 human subjects, and has...

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