Big Pharma & Big Politics

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Powerful members of Congress want to remake the Food and Drug Administration by giving it broad powers to levy fines, order drug recalls and restrict drug-industry advertising. ...

FDA officials "are too cozy with the companies they regulate," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) said, adding that new leadership must "fix the culture." ...

"There's a total inability of the FDA to carry out" its mission," said Rep. John Dingell (D., Mich.)

Meantime, the folks at the Center for Media & Democracy on their PRWatch.org website caught a couple of things I had missed regarding Big Pharma and Big Politics.

Pushing Prescriptions

Source: Center for Public Integrity, June 24, 2008

"Washington's largest lobby, the pharmaceutical industry, racked up another banner year on Capitol Hill in 2007, backed by a record $168 million lobbying effort," reports M. Asif Ismail. The spending, from companies and trade associations including Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the Biotechnology Industry Organization, jumped 36 percent over the previous year. Much of the increase went to Democrats, after they became the majority party in Congress. "In the current election cycle so far, for the first time on record, the pharmaceutical and health products industry has given slightly more money to Democrats than Republicans," Ismail notes. Just two years earlier, "Democrats received only 31 percent of the contributions from the industry, while the Republicans received 67 percent." The industry's lobbying successes have included "thwarting congressional efforts to restrict media ads for prescription drugs," "blocking the importation of inexpensive drugs from other countries," and "ensuring greater market access for pharmaceutical companies in international free trade agreements."

If You Can't Beat 'em, Hire 'em

Source: Wall Street Journal (sub req'd) July 23, 2008

Daniel Troy served as chief counsel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from 2001 to 2004. Starting September 2, 2008, he will be head counsel for the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. Before his stint at the FDA, Troy "fought the agency on behalf of the right to use medical-journal articles to suggest off-label uses for drugs and medical devices." He was also an active litigator who worked against consumer interests. "Representing the Washington Legal Foundation, an industry-supported business think tank, Mr. Troy argued for the protection of commercial speech. ... He was also part of the winning team representing Brown & Williamson in a suit against the FDA regarding tobacco advertising." At the FDA, he was known as a loyal friend of the very industries the regulatory agency is charged with monitoring. "Under Mr. Troy, the agency began filing amicus briefs opposing lawsuits against drug and medical-device makers, saying that having met the FDA's approval and labeling standards, manufacturers should be protected from state-based suits for damages." His move to GSK is another example of the revolving door between government and industry. GSK said of Troy, "His wealth of experience in the regulatory legislative area will be of enormous benefit to us, and ultimately to patients."


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gary Schwitzer published on July 31, 2008 7:07 AM.

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