HIGHTOWER: Industry "Modernizes" the FDA

Whether on toothpaste or breakfast cereal, you can bet that when a "New and Improved!" label appears on a package, it means you'll pay more and get less.Congress has learned this art of deceptive packaging, too. Hence, Newt Gingrich's 1995 proposal for a new tax giveaway to the privileged was labeled the "Job Creation Act." Likewise comes the "FDA Modernization Act of 1997" -- a twisted bit of legislation that "modernizes" the Food & Drug Administration's consumer-protection regulations about like a tornado modernizes a trailer park.This bill was not even written by a member of congress. Instead, it's primarily the product of lobbyists for the giant manufacturers of drugs and medical devices. The industry put up $34 million in campaign contributions and, in turn, the Republican leadership of congress allowed the lobbyists to [quote] "modernize" the laws regulating their own industry. No consumers were allowed to participate in this rewrite ... and no public hearings were held.The Health Research Group of Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog organization, looked into it and found these uglies written into the new law:* Instead of the FDA reviewing safety claims of a medical device, now the manufacturer can select and hire its own private tester -- a brother-in-law deal if I ever saw one!* Also, it used to be that at least two clinical investigations were necessary to OK a drug's effectiveness and safety; now, only one is required.* The industry re-write also says that keeping track of the performance of heart valves and other high-risk medical devices is now optional, rather than mandatory.* Finally, the new law tilts the regulatory process itself against us consumers and patients.This is Jim Hightower saying ... To learn more about this regulatory gut job, call Public Citizen's Health Research Group: 202-588-1000.Source: "Bill Clinton's Bloody Hands." Worst Pills, Best Pills from Public Citizen Health Research Group: January 1998.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.