FDA'S BALD-FACED BLUNDER

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We're saved! Next time we stroll down a store aisle where shelves are stacked with pain killers, laxatives, eye, ear, nose and throat treatments, breath fresheners, suppositories, pep pills, and various lotions and creams that cure body rashes, assorted eruptions and discolorations, we must remember to pause for a moment and thank the Food & Drug Administration for seeing to it that Rogaine isn't up there endangering our health.

In the latest example of what we here have been labeling The Nanny Nineties (the growing tendency of Big Government & Its Consumer Advocacy Partners to make sure each and every one of us remember to bundle up when it's cold and nasty outside), the FDA has boldly moved to protect those who want to slow or stop hair loss, flatly refusing over-the-counter approval for Rogaine.

Those who want to try Upjohn Co.'s Rogaine will have to continue to get it with a prescription.

The FDA said it was denying OTC approval in part because Rogaine could mask a serious medical problem. In other words, if Rogaine does its job and restores one's tresses or locks to full glory, mightn't it be covering up a condition caused by something more serious than pattern baldness? Yes, it might. Just as pain killers, laxatives, eye, ear, nose and throat treatments, and all of the above might also be masking more serious medical problems.

Ah, but the FDA explains that those other products work quickly; it takes Rogaine a year or so to do its job. Is the FDA saying, in effect, "If your product grows hair where no hair now grows, we want you to grow it faster"?

While interested bald and balding people appear ready to accept a one-year procedure, it looks to us as though the FDA prefers a Rogaine that works like fast-fast-fast Anacin and Speedy Alka-Seltzer instead of slow, slow like Heinz's ketchup. Or like the FDA approval process.

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