Thursday, August 2, 2012

Federal Judge Recognizes the Obvious

 "Because of the limited number of viewpoints on these issues, the scientific — as opposed to political — nature of those viewpoints, and the distinct responsibilities of the committee, I believe I have sufficient standards which I can evaluate the agency's discretion," Leon wrote in his order.

What an understatement.

Judge Allows Challenge of FDA Tobacco Panel to Proceed

Let's take a look at who sits on the FDA Tobacco Advisory Panel in this March 2012 press release from Audrey Silk of NYC Clash:


The ostensible point of the FDA's new congressionally-granted powers to regulate tobacco was to responsibly oversee the manufacture, marketing and distribution of tobacco in the name of harm reduction.

"But instead," says Audrey Silk, founder of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.), "the panel they've chosen to accomplish this task seems deliberately selected to steer away from that mission toward another: promoting lucrative substitutions.  Far from being composed of objective and cleanly disinterested scientists,  the list of  participants  announced so far has been shown to be deeply biased against tobacco,  biased against smokers and neck-deep in pharmaceutical-rooted conflicts of interest."

Err, I don't think that we're going to see harm reduction anytime soon with these folks influencing decision makers:

¶   Jonathan Samet, the Committee's chairman, is director of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control, which is funded by Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturers of nicotine replacement products and quit-smoking drugs.  An activist in the stamp-out-tobacco movement since the early 1980's, he's also pursued his studies through the generous funding of anti-tobacco lobby groups and GlaxoSmithKline.

Dr.  Neil Benowitz scores a trifecta-- financially beholden to Pfizer, GSK, and Nabi Pharmaceuticals. Most famously, Benowitz co-authored a study whose purpose was to establish a scientific basis for the use of Pfizer's Chantix as a quit-smoking aid; thereafter he continued to act as a paid consultant in promoting the drug's use.  Chantix, called "the most dangerous drug in America" in 2008 by the Institute for Safe Medication Practice, has also earned a black box from the FDA as an established cause of  "serious neuropsychiatric symptoms" including  violence,  hallucinations, seizures, uncontrolled muscular spasms,  clinical depression and completed suicide. The FAA banned its use by pilots.

Dr.  Dorothy Hatsukami is a recipient of a grant from Nabi Biopharmacueticals to develop a vaccine (NicVAX) against nicotine use.  Anti-nicotine vaccines are said to get their effect by blocking the pleasure receptors in the brain.
Dr.  Jack Henningfield, another paid consultant for GlaxoSmithKline,  additionally owns the patent on a proprietary nicotine replacement product.

Dr. Greg Connolly, a former Director of Tobacco Control for the state of Massachusetts,  has long been among the most active and ardent of the Anti-Smoking advocates in the history of such advocacy.   In his official capacity,  and with taxpayer money, he  has denigrated,  banned and "denormalized" smokers. Further, according to Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, "Connolly is the most extreme anti-harm reduction person I've ever heard of."

¶ Most egregious where C.L.A.S.H. is concerned, Patricia Nez Henderson was chosen by FDA to "represent the public," as though the "public" were composed of,  and only composed of,  professional anti-smokers and nonsmokers.  As a member of the board of the extremist  Americans for Nonsmokers Rights-- a well-known anti-smoker group – Ms. Henderson's perspective is hardly "representative" of the public whose interests are directly affected by the actions of this committee and the “public,” it was reasonable to assume, the FDA meant when soliciting an advocate to fill that seat.  The "public," in this case, is the consumer.

Click on the link above to read this press release in its entirety.

Thank you Audrey Silk for all of your hard work!



  1. Judge Leon is something of a thorn in the side of Tobacco Control, isn't he?

    I suppose that the crux of the matter is that the federal 'rules' require 'fairness', and a panel which does not contain sufficient representatives of the consumer cannot be considered to be 'fair'.

    What is really surprising is that there seems to be no mechanism for federal consideration of who is appointed to the panel or an mechanism for controlling who does the appointing!

    By the way, much the same problem applies here in the UK - except that the processes are even more devious!

  2. "Judge Leon is something of a thorn in the side of Tobacco Control, isn't he? "

    For sure Junican. Someone has to represent the interests of the people!

    "What is really surprising is that there seems to be no mechanism for federal consideration of who is appointed to the panel or an mechanism for controlling who does the appointing! "

    Anti-tobacco lobbyists appear to be in charge of who gets appointed in this case. The executive branch appoints the major players, and then they in turn appoint their buddies. There is a lot of money and investments to be made! Public health be damned.

    It's worse in the U.K.?

  3. Somewhat belated response, J. I have been struggling with Blogger for some time. A number of sites which I regularly visit are affected. For example, Siegel, Subrosa, Nothing to Declare.


    If not worse, then similar. For example, the Government promised a review of the smoking ban after three years. Come the day and the hour, they refused to review it. However, some time later, they quietly did their own review. They set up a committee composed of the most delirious prohibitionist in the land which reported secretly to the Health Dept.

    Scandalous, but typical of Tobacco Control.

  4. "Scandalous, but typical of Tobacco Control."

    Indeed Junican. I'm sorry that you've been encountering issues with Blogger. Are you having problems signing in?

  5. It is rather weird. The big problem started with Siegel. For some reason, all at once, one could access Siegal but not see any comments or comment oneself. Then someone found a way around the problem. It seemed that Blogger had split the UK section from the US section. One had to amend the URL manually to get through. Even then, one could only see comments but not comment oneself. Now it seems to be OK, but hardly anyone comments there.
    Tea and Cigarettes (Pat Nurse) is very slow to load and comes up without a comments button - at first. I have just this minute checked. The latest post has a comment button but it does not work. Previous entries do not have a comment button. But it did work yesterday. Very odd.

    I suppose that it could be my computer, but every site except Blogspot works fine.

    I started on Wordpress. I cannot remember why. Frank Davis moved to Wordpress and so did Leg Iron (after a brief dalliance with Disqus or whatever).

    Do I take it that you have not published any new posts since this one? The reason that I ask is that once or twice I seem to have been directed to a post which is not the latest post - ie. stuck!

    Your site seems to be more or less OK except for serious delays and 'cannot access this site' messages sometimes.

    Personally, I think that Blogspot has 'issues'...!

    By the way, do you read 'Velvet Glove Iron Fist' - Chris snowdon's blog? Here is the URL if you do not know that blog:

    (another blogspot, but one with no problems!)

    If you look at his latest post (about the Australian fiasco) and you look at the comments, you will see a couple of comments from a person named (damn! Now Blogspot is acting up there as well! Cannot access comments!) through....Kairos. Read his comments. He seems to be calling standardised packaging rotten, but it become clear he is is doing so ONLY BECAUSE HE WANTS MORE VICIOUS ACTION!. See this sentence:

    It also serves an excellent distraction to any consideration of alternative legislation that might actually have some impact on Tobacco usage.

    His comment illustrates the twisted minds of the Zealots.

  6. Junican-

    I don't know...maybe it is your computer like you said. I've personally never had any issues with Blogger. No, I haven't published any new posts since this one. I've had some personal things to contend with and I've also been consumed with music, as my band is getting ready to go into the studio. There hasn't been enough time to post lately, but I plan on it soon. I also feel that it's good to step away from something for a while, so that it becomes easier to see things with a fresh perspective. Of course, I'm always trying to keep up with reading what's being written and talked about in the blogosphere. Christopher Snowdon's blog is definitely one of my fav blogs!