Ledger Editorial is a lesson for our politicians

Some food for thought for Trenton City politicians and those currently seeking office – please keep donor money and campaign contributions out of public decision-making:

Editorial

Star-Ledger

September 29, 2009

The curious case of the Food and Drug Administration, the knee implant and four New Jersey congressmen raises serious concerns about how politics can influence decisions that affect Americans’ health. It also raises hopes that the FDA is cleaning up its act.

The agency is taking a second look at its approval for Menaflex, a patch designed to replace torn cartilage in the knee. The FDA’s scientific reviewers had recommended against approving the device, based on studies showing it was prone to failure with the result that patients had to undergo more surgery.

Yet it was approved for the market in late 2008. How did that happen? The FDA, to its credit, is now looking into that.

Its preliminary investigation found FDA’s own processes at fault – some of the agency’s rules were confusing, and other times procedures simply weren’t followed.

But it also said unusual pressure was brought on the agency by Reps. Steve Rothman and Frank Pallone and Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, all New Jersey Democrats.

Fair enough, but the FDA report said the congressmen were involved in the process to a “highly unusual” degree. It noted their persistence and their interest in “specific, substantive aspects of the device’s review.” It said they spoke directly with then-commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, even trying to arrange a meeting with the commissioner, company officials and members of Congress all present – which would have violated FDA policy. The report stopped short of saying that political pressure was the most significant factor that got the device through the process.

Yes, the congressmen were responding to a constituent’s complaint of unfair treatment by a federal agency. It also happens to be a company whose executives gave a total of $28,000 in political contributions to the four politicians. Not every constituent has the wherewithal to contribute thousand of dollars and get special attention. Even when there isn’t a direct quid-pro-quo it has the aroma of pay-to-play.

Money has infected our politics for so long, there is the temptation to look away and say “So, what else is new?” But when it comes to a medical product which, if defective or inferior, may lead to more pain and expense for patients, there is no excuse for allowing politics to get in the way of scientific review.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Ledger Editorial is a lesson for our politicians

  1. Nicholas Stewart

    My solution to government: reduce your tax liability to the minimum.

    You can’t trust any party to act in your interest – unless of course you lead the party.

    With regard to this piece, not surprised to find those politicians involved. Though, they could have worn another flag just as easily. In the end, isn’t there just one party? The “GREED” party?

    Limit your tax liabilities! Then vote. Finally, cross fingers.

  2. The Star-Ledger is absolutely correct. Money has infected politics to the point where what is ultimately legal corruption is prevalent. I was pleased to see the Star-Ledger call that out. The corrupt political machines that run New Jersey have really screwed up the system, but this election day we the voters have a chance to shake it up by electing a viable independent, Chris Daggett, to the governorship.

    That’s why The Star Ledger’s endorsement of Chris Daggett is great news. I wish the Republicans would stop the Bush/Rove Fear mongering. There is obviously a consensus that a vote for Daggett is not a vote for Corzine.

    Daggett is a viable candidate and there are many of this who are voting for him because we know he can win and is the only candidate who can change this state. The Star Ledger’s endorsement echoes and re-affirms that opinion.

    We need people to get involved and spread the word about Chris Daggett. http://njelection.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/bloggers-needed-to-spread-the-word-ledger-endorses-daggett%e2%80%8f/

    Learn 15 ways to help and get started now. http://njelection.wordpress.com/2009/08/28/chris-daggett-campaign-15-ways-to-help/

    Even if your not from NJ you can still cyber volunteer. Go here to get
    Html and Text code to post on the web or in an email! http://njelection.wordpress.com/spread-the-word

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