Big Pharma has just scored a big victory with the appointment of Robert Califf as new head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The fact that there were only four votes in the Senate opposing Califf’s confirmation – in spite of his deep ties to the pharmaceutical industry – is a clear illustration of just how far the influence of big drug manufacturers reaches in Washington.
As Mike Adams and founder of Natural News wrote:
“The FDA has now officially been completely captured by the pharmaceutical industry. With the confirmation of pharma insider Robert Califf as the new head of the FDA, America can look forward to many years of FDA malfeasance in conspiracy with pharmaceutical manufacturers to cover up the deadly side effects of drugs like Vioxx, all while using the full power of the federal government to intimidate, censor and criminalize natural product companies.”
Califf’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry are indeed formidable; he has accepted money from no less than 23 different drug companies, and his stance is clear: “Many of us consult with the pharmaceutical industry, which I think is a very good thing.”
New evidence regarding the inappropriateness of Califf’s appointment has just been made public. From The Legal Examiner:
“Several thousand injured plaintiffs have filed personal injury and product liability claims against Johnson & Johnson and Bayer over the safety of its anti-clotting drug Xarelto.
“Now plaintiffs claim that a letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine and written primarily by researchers at Duke University deliberately left out critical laboratory data. They claim the companies were complicit by staying silent, helping deceive the editors while the companies provided the very same data to regulators in the United States and Europe. …
“The clinical trials, led by Dr. Robert Califf, who is now the FDA commissioner, have come under intense criticism since Xarelto was approved, as the drug has been linked to a shocking number of adverse event reports involving severe and uncontrollable bleeding problems.”
And we’re supposed to depend on this guy to run an agency created to prevent these kinds of abuses?
War on many fronts
The appointment marks an obvious victory for Big Pharma in the war against the American people, but it’s just one of many battlefronts.
As if gaining control over the FDA weren’t enough, the drug industry continues to expand its influence at every level of government.
In a Philly.com article examining how Big Pharma’s goals counter U.S. economic interests, Pharmaceutical Business Research Associates president Daniel R. Hoffman, Ph.D. wrote:
“Some activists around the country understand that the gerrymandered Congress, together with a timid, ineffective president, make it necessary to pursue an alternative course for containing unaffordable drug prices. Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, for example, has written that state-by-state initiatives represent the most practical way around an intransigent Congress.”
When consumer groups launched legislative initiatives in nine states designed to bring “transparency to pharma’s bogus claims about high R&D costs justifying exorbitant prices,” the industry responded by pouring millions of dollars into campaigns aimed at defeating their efforts.
Dr. Hoffman concludes:
“So pharma’s schemes to keep cost control measures off state ballots and its success in getting a known henchman appointed to head the FDA demonstrate its top priorities: avarice and short-term profit making.
“The nation’s economic prosperity and physical health, on the other hand, require preventing pharma from achieving these goals.”
Profits vs. Sustainability
Hoffman’s remarks are worth taking into account, especially considering the fact that he represents an organization whose stated goal is to “uncover actionable insights for sustainable market advantage.”
Even some industry insiders like Hoffman apparently recognize the unsustainability of Big Pharma’s aggressive “short-term profit making” approach.
Too bad our elected leaders don’t display the same level of awareness.