by Dr Mary Zennett
The New York Times recently shed light on "a wide-ranging surveillance operation by the FDA against a group of its own scientists". Indeed the scientists correspondence included "secretly captured thousands of e-mails that the disgruntled scientists sent privately to members of Congress, lawyers, labor officials, journalists and even President Obama."
The 5 scientists had raised concerns" that faulty review procedures at the agency had led to the approval of medical imaging devices for mammograms and colonoscopies that exposed patients to dangerous levels of radiation".
"A confidential government review in May by the Office of Special Counsel, which deals with the grievances of government workers, found that the scientists' medical claims were valid enough to warrant a full investigation into what it termed "a substantial and specific danger to public safety."
4 of the 5 scientists subsequently lost their jobs.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said: "It is absolutely unacceptable for the FDA to be spying on employees who reach out to members of Congress to expose abuses or wrongdoing in government agencies. The FDA should be focused on resolving these complaints rather than retaliating against its employees."
And in the words of Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said. "The FDA's actions raise serious implications for the right of any agency employee to make protected disclosures about waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, or public safety to Congress or anyone else."
And "the F.D.A. program may have crossed legal lines by grabbing and analyzing confidential information that is specifically protected under the law, including attorney-client communications, whistle-blower complaints to Congress and workplace grievances filed with the government."
Why is all this so significant?
The FDA's integrity of ensuring the public's safety has been in question for quite some time. In the Rise of Tyranny, Jonathan Emord states "Since the mid-1990's a steady stream of FDA scientists have fled…when their consciences could no longer condone FDA approval of unsafe drugs. Without exception, each one has explained to Congress and the media that the FDA is beholden to the drug industry.." Emord continues, "FDA's record is one of silencing scientific criticism, eliminating evidence of dissent, hiding critical reviews of drugs from the public….To say that the FDA Commissioners have gotten away with murder is to speak literally."(47-48)
Who is Jonathan Emord?
Attorney Emord has "defeated the food and drug administration more times in federal court than any other attorney in American history".
In this latest case, it was the lack of safety of medical devices that was in question.
Let us believe that this latest exposure of the FDA's betrayal of its own scientists will lead to an overhaul in the interest of public safety of the FDA and for that matter all government agencies especially when the health of the public is at imminent risk.