Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bush's Import Safety to Follow His Previous FDA Changes?

President Bush established a working group on Import Safety via executive order. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is to chair the group, made up mostly of Cabinet members and the Chair of the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Its charge is "to identify actions and appropriate steps that can be pursued, within existing resources, to promote the safety of imported products."

Given President Bush's penchant for voluntary regulation and putting industry insiders in charge of "enforcing" those flexible standards, what can the public expect? Taking the Bush team's prior actions with the Food and Drug Administration, the American people are likely to be shafted.

In summer 2006, the federal government implemented a change that pharmaceutical companies cannot be sued for injuries to patients as a result of going through the agency's approval and labelling process. FDA approval preempts patients from making financial recoveries for injuries caused by manufactured drugs. This applies to cases where the company knows of problems but hasn't informed the patient.

Given this track record, what will the Import Safety Working Group do other than stay within "existing resources"? They'll likely clear the field of any product liability responsibility for international companies. That George, if he's one thing, he's consistently on the side of his big moneyed corporate friends.

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