Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, joined Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez this morning to talk about our new report that shows the pharmaceutical industry has overtaken the defense industry in the amount of fines paid for violating the Fair Claims Act.
Archive for the ‘Consumer Protection’ Category
Barring any additional delays, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will vote tomorrow on the final rule for the much-anticipated product incident database. It couldn’t have happened at a more appropriate or symbolic time – a day before the start of the holiday (toy!) season – because it will be the last shopping season that consumers will lack a powerful consumer protection tool, the online product incident database.
The Commission’s vote to approve the database rule should have occurred last week, but it was delayed at the request of Commissioner Anne Northrup, who, along with Commissioner Nancy Nord, opposes it. These product incident database opponents offered an alternative proposal – one that seemed to be more of a tool to protect businesses, rather than consumers.
If all goes well tomorrow (notwithstanding the expected opposition), the database will launch in March 2011, ushering in a new era for consumer empowerment and improved product safety.
The database is expected to significantly lessen the amount of time dangerous products remain on store shelves. So by the time next year’s holiday shopping season comes around, shoppers will be able to search the database to determine whether products they hope to buy were reported as potentially harmful, and share their experiences with others as well.
Recent actions by Congress and federal regulators have led to improved product safety, but product recalls and reported injuries still remain high. The CPSC said last week that toy-related injuries are increasing (pdf). And Illinois’ attorney general released a long list of recently recalled toys and other children’s products to alert buyers of their potential to harm. I’ll surmise that if consumers could have shared and researched these incidents themselves through a vigorous online database, a number of unnecessary injuries would have been avoided.
The announcement by the U.S.Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that propoxyphene-containing products are finally going to be taken off the market – because of dangers previously known and acted upon, with bans announced in the UK almost six years ago, and in Europe, almost 1½ years ago – is a serious indictment of the FDA’s long-lasting unwillingness to protect people in this country from a deadly but barely effective painkiller. In announcing the ban in 2005, the UK stated that the efficacy of propoxyphene (sold generically and under the brand name Darvon) “is poorly established and the risk of toxicity in overdose, both accidental and deliberate, is unacceptable” and that “[I]n relation to safety, there is evidence that fatal toxicity may occur with a small multiple of the normal therapeutic dose and a proportion of fatalities are caused by inadvertent overdose.” The FDA’s claim that this is the first evidence that the drug is dangerous at the “standard therapeutic dose” thus rings dangerously hollow.
The FDA’s deadly delay in this case starkly illustrates how one of the most important public health concepts, the precautionary principle, was embraced by the UK and Europe, but was for too long recklessly rejected by the FDA. (more…)
For too long, some manufacturers have tried to keep information about their defective products under wraps and away from consumers, unnecessarily increasing the risk associated with, and number of injuries and deaths caused by, these products. Wednesday could mark the beginning of the end of that practice and the start of a new chapter in product safety.
That’s when the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will issue its final rule on the building and maintenance of an online, searchable incident database – a critical piece of the landmark Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. Expected to be launched in March, the database promises to hand over tremendous purchasing and reporting control to consumers. While consumers have long been able to report product incidents to the commission, with the online database, they can publicly submit reports (more…)