Sadly, in part due to whistle blowers and the persistent efforts of Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), we've repeatedly seen evidence that the (FDA) has repeatedly opted to not protect us consumers (see e.g., the FDA's part in scandals involving Viagra, Vioxx, Avandia, and Ketek).
It's not just drugs anymore. Apparently, the FDA failed to inform the public after finding evidence that some popular baby formulas contain toxic chemicals. The Washington Post reports:
"Public health groups, consumer advocates and members of Congress blasted the Food and Drug Administration yesterday for failing to act after discovering trace amounts of the industrial chemical melamine in baby formula sold in the United States.
"'This FDA, this Bush administration, instead of protecting the public health, is protecting industry,' said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the FDA budget. In an interview, DeLauro said she wants the agency to disclose its findings and to develop a plan to remove melamine from formula. 'We're talking about babies, about the most vulnerable. This really makes me angry.'"
"The FDA found melamine and cyanuric acid, a related chemical, in samples of baby formula made by major U.S. manufacturers. Melamine can cause kidney and bladder stones and, in worst cases, kidney failure and death. If melamine and cyanuric acid combine, they can form round yellow crystals that can also damage kidneys and destroy renal function.
"Melamine was found in Good Start Supreme Infant Formula With Iron made by Nestle, and cyanuric acid was detected in Enfamil Lipil With Iron infant formula powder made by Mead Johnson. A spokesman for Nestle did not respond to repeated calls and e-mails for comment yesterday....
"The FDA collected 87 samples of infant formula made by American manufacturers, tested all but 10 of them and held a conference call Monday with manufacturers to alert them to the preliminary findings, FDA spokeswoman Judy Leon said. She said she did not know when the agency was planning to inform the public.
"The test results were unearthed by the Associated Press, which had filed a request for records under the Freedom of Information Act."
Why inform the public about such potential dangers? Wouldn't that hurt baby-formula sales? God knows we can't let that happen -- especially with our nation's economy poised on the cliff's edge.
Yes, I'm being ironic, so please don't call me heartless.
Is it any wonder that the FDA has such a terrible image? Ironically, the Washington Post reported in October that the FDA committed $300,000 to hiring a DC public-relations firm to polish the FDA's image.
It gets worse. The official in charge of hiring the contractor found a way around the competitive- bidding process so he could funnel the money to a firm with ties to that official.
Yeah, I do have problems with taxpayer-funded officials funneling tax dollars to their friends and violating federal regulations in the process.
But let's get down to the root issue: instead of spending 300,000 tax dollars on spinning the FDA's deservedly bad image, why don't the people running the FDA instead start actually doing their job -- and actually earning a good reputation?
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