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April 20, 1979

The Cry of Wolf

JAMA. 1979;241(16):1716. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03290420042026

The fable "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" (no pun intended) is familiar to all. The hero, or should we say villain, of the story falsely raised the specter of imminent hazard to draw attention to himself. Such seems to be the case with the propoxyphene inquiry, the latest in a series of alarms raised over the dangers of some pharmaceutical products. This new sortie follows the action against phenformin, which was the first drug to be removed from the market under the imminent hazard rule.

Now, it is perfectly proper and even desirable that society, through its political structure, should exercise some control over medical care; however, such control should be directed at cost and access and should not involve scientific issues for which political officials are not trained or in which they are not experienced in dealing. The laws of science are not established by majority vote of a