A missed opportunity
May 11th 2007, 12:30
America's senators have missed an enormous opportunity to give their citizens genuine protection against a pharmaceutical industry that is all too rarely brought to account. Instead they voted overwhelmingly in favour of moves that draw the industry and the drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, even closer together.
The Senate has voted 93 to 1 in favour of a 'drug safety' measure - S.1082 - which deepens the financial ties between the industry and the FDA. Drug companies will be doubling the amount of money they pay to the regulator, thus giving strength to the notion that the drug industry is becoming increasingly self-regulating in the USA.
The new measure fails to exclude foods and nutritional supplements, and so the protection enjoyed by these harmless substances that was enshrined by the DSHEA law has all but been overturned.
Worse, a novel and radical move - known as the Grassley amendment - was defeated by a single vote. This amendment, classified as S.1039, attempted to bring in genuine drug safety protection for consumers.
As it is, an industry that kills 100,000 Americans every year - and that's according to the most conservative figures available - will continue to generate enormous profits with impunity.