Dietary rules heighten food fight over FDA

Christian Science Monitor
Thursday, January 13, 2005

Eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables - and don't consume more than you burn off. That's the shorthand version of the federal dietary guidelines released Wednesday.
But the guidelines stop short of fingering any one food type, such as sugar, for an oversized contribution to the fattening of a nation where nearly two-thirds are labeled overweight or obese.
Critics say it's a missed opportunity - and the latest sign that Washington may be too close to some of the big interests it regulates.

No federal agency has come under as much fire recently on this issue as the US Food and Drug Administration, which missed early warnings on heavily marketed drugs, such as Vioxx and Celebrex, as well as signs that use of antidepressants could be dangerous for children.

Early on, the 109th Congress will be taking up a new version of the medical malpractice bill, which includes a controversial provision to shelter drug companies from liability for any product that has been approved by the FDA. Critics say this fight over this bill reopens the issue of congressional oversight of the industry - which has contributed more than $ 116 million to federal campaigns since 1990 - and will discourage the industry from withdrawing unsafe drugs.
"There is a financial risk for companies if they don't take unsafe drugs and products off the market," says Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy in New York. "Under this medical-malpractice bill, that financial incentive would be removed."
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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