The FDA has shown blatantly on more than one occasion that it does not always watch out for the consumer. It is inevitably tied to political interests and subject to corruption.
In 2005, the FDA rejected the proposal to make emergency contraception, Plan B, an over-the-counter medication despite studies showing it was safe. Earlier, the Bush administration had appointed David Hager, MD, an anti-abortion activist with strong political and religious beliefs about the drug to the FDA advisory committee. The FDA's rejection cited concerns Hager wrote in a report (CBS coverage here).
Last year, the FDA decided that flavored cigarettes (except menthols) should be banned after extensive lobbying from Phillip Morris (who wanted to crush competition from smaller tobacco companies). Of course, menthol cigarettes were not banned; there was an explicit exception for the sale of menthol cigarettes (read here).
Most recently, the FDA is considering rescinding approval of a cancer drug called Avastin. FDA studies have shown that it slows tumor growth for only a short period of time in breast cancer patients, and can have undesirable side effects. Of course, there are patients who have found Avastin to be effective, and have not suffered any side effects (more here). This is not surprising, as body chemistry, type and resistances are a complex matter and vary widely in the human population. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another.
This is common sense. However, it is common sense that the FDA does not seem to understand. Because of one study, which proposed that in general this drug was not sufficiently beneficial, the FDA wants to revoke approval for everyone seeking to use it for breast cancer.
Blanket rules almost always will always oppress, harm, or at the very least inconvenience an innocent minority. Humans simply are not all made equal, and placed in the exact same circumstances in life. What works for one person doesn't work for another. What may be fair or completely irrelevant for one person may work terrible injustice on another. In this instance, revoking approval may be an irrelevant matter for the majority who sees no benefit in the drug or suffers side effects. But what about those who have found no other effective drug, and who see Avastin as their last resort in the fight against breast cancer?
The government may have more money to throw around, more studies and more scientists, but ultimately, who has the right to decide what form of treatment works for them? The cancer patient who has been battling cancer for 15 years and has found the drug works for her without significant side effects? Or a bunch of arrogant bureaucrats behind a desk, who have their jobs only because they steal money from tax payers?