As part of our big, new redesign of the Alliance for Justice website, the Justice Watch blog has moved. To be sure you're getting all the latest news about the fight for a fairer America, visit us at www.afj.org/blog

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Committee's Preemption Report Details Internal Challenges to Anti-Consumer Agenda

Today, the House Oversight Committee released a majority staff report detailing objections made by career Food and Drug Administration employees to the Bush administration's repeated attempts to expand the preemption doctrine in ways that would harm American consumers. The report, released just days before Wyeth v. Levine oral arguments, outlines the dangers this policy poses to public safety and the disturbing efforts by officials within the Bush administration to push its pro-business agenda over the objections of career agency staff.

The report claims that “for over a century, state tort law has provided that Americans injured by a defective product can sue the manufacturer of that product for damages” and that in the case of medical devices or drugs, this policy has “provide[d] an additional layer of protection” for the consumer. But despite the century’s old policy of promoting state tort law as a complement to FDA regulation, high-level FDA officials and the Bush administration have spent the past two years working to eliminate this critical safe-guard.

Noting that “internal agency documents obtained by the Committee show that these regulatory changes were made by FDA over the objections of key career officials,” the report goes on to say that these officials “repeatedly warned that the central factual justifications for the agency’s new positions were false.” These officials cautioned that “changes in the labeling rules would harm patients by significantly delaying the addition of important safety information to drug labels.” Sadly, despite their objections, the FDA and the Bush administration has continued to push this policy.

Congressman Henry Waxman continues to do a great job as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee and deserves a great deal of credit for releasing this report at such a critical time. As the nine justices of the Supreme Court prepare to consider this issue on Monday, we hope they consider the committee's findings. The Bush administration and the Chamber of Commerce may argue that state tort laws only frustrate FDA efforts to ensure drug safety, but 100 years of precedent prove otherwise. To enact federal preemption policy without explicit congressional approval would be the definition of “judicial activism.”

To learn more about this issue, check out our fact sheet “The Supreme Court & Big Business” here.


kanawah said...

I and all other Americans are grateful for Congressman Henry Waxman's actions.

bob said...

This anti consumer agenda is just the corporation owned government who sees a free people as an enemy. The Bush presidency and it's policies have been the worst anti American and Constitutional group of people we have ever had. The incorporation of Wall Street into the constitutional process using the
Milton Friedman market driven economics as the fulcrum to achieve this has put us back into the robber baron days and is worse than communism in it's destruction of small business and free trade.To say nothing of devaluing human and environmental health and safety.