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Erythropoietin bad news hidden late on Friday?

Merrill Goozner suggests that the FDA announcement late last Friday afternoon, issuing an official warning against giving cancer patients erythropoietin drugs (Epogen, Procrit, Aranesp) for anemia, was timed to minimize bad news or embarrassment. Goozner writes:

“What struck me most about yesterday’s announcement was its timing. It has long been a hallmark of White House public relations staff that the best time to release bad news was late on Friday afternoons. That way, the least number of people will hear about it through traditional news media sources. It’s too late to make the Friday evening newscasts; and the print stories usually wind up inside the Saturday papers, which are the least read of the week. (The New York Times story, at least, got mentioned on the front page.)

Is this what the FDA wanted for this important warning? Is this the best way to counter the torrent of direct-to-consumer TV ads touting this drug by asking “if you’re ready for chemotherapy”?

This late Friday afternoon release shows as much as anything how the culture of the agency has been transformed in recent years from industry watchdog to industry lapdog.”

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