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The term “FDA approved” means a lot to those of us working in health care and the patients we treat. But if the 21st Century Cures Actbecomes law — the House of Representatives approved it Wednesday and the Senate will vote on it next week — this mark of trustworthy stewardship will become a shadow of its former self.

Working in medicine and public health in Baltimore, we are witnesses to patients’ distrust of the health care system and the numerous barriers they face to quality, affordable care. We rely on the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that the treatments we provide are both safe and effective. Our patients have also placed their trust in this agency through us as their prescribers.

For example, in discussing medications to treat chronic pain with a 48-year-old single mother of five who works during the day, one of us suggested gabapentin as a treatment option. Although it is a commonly used drug, she had not heard of it. But she was reassured when told that it is FDA approved for this condition. She tried this medication, and it has provided her good pain relief.

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Image: By ParentingPatch – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24579788

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