FDA Regulation of Tobacco Called ‘Death Sentence’

Goozner Legislation
headed for President Obama's desk that would give the Food and Drug
Administration regulatory authority over tobacco was called a "death
sentence" for agency morale by longtime FDA observer Jim Dickinson,
editor of FDA Webview (subscription required). 

The impact of this bill internally will be like a death
sentence, steadily killing the agency's old public health spirit and
replacing it with a strange hybrid. This new ethos will have to blend
public health and safety with toleration for and husbandry of
death-dealing products that have no plausible relationship to the
diverse family of other products regulated by FDA.

Dickinson predicts the fate of tobacco regulation at the agency will
be the same as control of narcotics, which was first subjected to FDA
regulation in 1966. The short-lived Bureau of Drug Abuse Control (BDAC)
was only at the FDA for two years before authority was shifted to the
Treasury's Bureau of Narcotics, which was later merged into the Drug
Enforcement Administration.

Last week, criticism of the Waxman-Kennedy legislation came largely
from the right, with the Cato Institute leading the charge on behalf of
small tobacco companies who claim FDA regulation will cement Philip
Morris' stranglehold on the cigarette market by making introduction of
new products nearly impossible. From a public health perspective, who
cares?

Merrill Goozner has been writing about economics and health care for many years. The former
chief economics correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, Merrill has
written for a long list of publications including the New York Times,
The American Prospect and The Washington Post. Until March of 2009,
Merrill directed the Integrity in Science project at the Center for
Science in the Public Interest. His first book,
"The $800 Million Dollar Pill – The Truth Behind the Cost of New Drugs
" (University of California Press, 2004) won acclaim from critics
for its treatment of the issues facing the health care system and the
pharmaceutical industry in particular. You can read more pieces by Merrill at  Gooznews.com,where this post first appeared.

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“Last week, criticism of the Waxman-Kennedy legislation came largely from the right” Can you say ‘knee jerk’?