John Edwards Fights for the American Consumer

I don't have to tell any of the pet owners who lost a member of their family about the evils of our deepening dependence on imported food supplies. I also don't have to tell anyone who has become sick from eating food imported from places that have lax food standards. Well, all this has not been lost on John Edwards either. He is taking the lead once again on an issue that should be important to all Americans, the quality of food we feed ourselves and our pets. Today, John Edwards released a new policy proposal to Protect our food supply, and require country of origin labeling. This is an idea that is well past due. Lets look at this plan in-depth.

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No Jail Time for Bush FDA Commissioner Who Betrayed Public Trust

During his brief tenure as President Bush's FDA Commissioner, Lester Crawford proved to be a great example of the corruption within the Bush administration and the Republican Party, failing to disclose his financial stake in companies regulated by his agency. He even admitted as much when pleading guilty last October. And what does he get for such impropriety? Not even a single day in prison, according to the Associated Press.

A judge on Tuesday sentenced former Food and Drug Administration chief Lester Crawford to three years' supervised probation with fines of roughly $90,000 for lying about stocks he owned in companies regulated by his agency.

Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson's sentence spares Crawford jail time but is stiffer than the punishment of $50,000 proposed by federal prosecutors for the former head of the FDA.

"While the total fine exceeds what the parties agreed to, the fine is well below the maximum under the statute," Robinson said in a 90-minute hearing in which she sometimes questioned the level of Crawford's remorse.

The Bush administration has proved to be one that is no stranger of illegal activities, with Scooter Libby standing trial for lying to prosecutors, David Safavian being convicted of covering up his ties to Jack Abramoff, and Claude Allen pleading guilty to theft, just to name three former high-ranking Bush advisors. But in some ways the dereliction of duty by Crawford is even worse, not only showing himself to be corrupt by hiding his financial ties to companies under his purview but also proving to be an entirely ineffectual administrator, with serious questions arising about the actions of the FDA under his watch (for example here, here and here).

For his betrayal of the public's trust, Crawford should have received at least some jail time (he could have been sentenced to up to two years, if I'm reading the Associated Press report correctly), not let off with just a fine and probation.

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Squeeze Play

Cross-posted from Tort Deform

by Professor Alan Morrison

Consider the following all too common situation: a patient sees a doctor for an ailment, the doctor makes a diagnosis, the doctor checks the Physicians Desk Reference ("PDR") and prescribes a drug, the pharmacist substitutes an identical generic drug (as required by state law unless the doctor insists on the brand name product), and the patient develops some new disease as a result of taking the drug.  The patient learns that the new disease was actually not a surprise and that there is substantial evidence that patients can contract that disease from that drug so that either another drug (or alternative treatment) could have been used or other precautionary measures taken.  Suit is then brought against the doctor, the maker of the brand name product (because it prepared and paid for the PDR entry on which the doctor relied), and the maker of the generic that the patient took. (Disclosure: I am co-counsel in one such case and advising in others.)

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Just outlaw tobacco

The Washington Post today recommends stricter regulations for the tobacoo industry. Good first step but what lawmakers really need to do is ban tobacco altogether.

If it really is the killer that health officials say, why not take it out and save millions of lives in the process?

Marijuanna is considered a Schedule I drug by the federal government. Requirements for Schedule I:


(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
    (B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    (C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

Tobacco fits into these requirements. The industry is getting a free ride while the companies continue to pump up the nicotine levels.

If the lawmakers and regulators are really, I mean REALLY committed to public health, someone should actually go out on a limb and ban the product altogether.  

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Big Noise in the Mitten State: Part 3--A Big "V" for "The Vioxx Woman"

Cross-posted from Tort Deform: The Civil Justice Defense Blog

By Professor Henry Greenspan

I had anticipated that this installment about the struggle to rescind Michigan's absolute drug industry immunity law would be not be a happy one.  Almost certainly, those who opposed rescinding would retain control of our State House.  And that meant that Speaker Craig DeRoche would continue to be able to block floor votes on any of the several bills to rescind immunity.  DeRoche's  veto was the ballgame.  He knew that a majority in the House, both Republicans and Democrats, were in favor of rescinding.  He also knew that polls consistently showed that at least 70% of Michigan citizens favored rescinding.  So there was certainly high water on the other side of the levee, but there seemed no possibility of a serious storm.

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