From what I know of Big Pharma, I’m not really surprised. Companies are frequently given a mild slap on the hand and get off with a promise to report themselves for breaking any more regulations. And knowing Mitt Romney’s worship of the marketplace, of course he doesn’t want to regulate businesses, so that doesn’t surprise me, either. But you’d think that one or two of the mainstream media might want to point this out for the people who don’t already know:
The fatal meningitis epidemic sweeping the United States can now be traced to the failure of then-Gov. Mitt Romney to adequately regulate the Massachusetts pharmaceutical company that is being blamed for the deaths.
At least 344 people in 18 states have been infected by the growing public health crisis and 25 have died so far.
But the epidemic may also play a role in the presidential campaign, now that state records reveal that a Massachusetts regulatory agency found that the New England Compounding Co., the pharmaceutical company tied to the epidemic, repeatedly failed to meet accepted standards in 2004 — but a reprimand was withdrawn by the Romney administration in apparent deference to the company’s business interests.
“It goes all the way up to Mitt Romney,” said Alyson Oliver, a Michigan attorney representing victims of the outbreak. According to Oliver, on at least six occasions, NECC was cited by authorities for failure to meet regulatory standards and almost subjected to a three-year probation. “It goes directly to the heart of what Romney says about regulation, ‘Hands off. Let the companies do their thing.’”
“When the person who is supposed to be in charge of oversight does not believe oversight is necessary, this is what happens,” Oliver added.
“The philosophy of the Romney administration was to have lax regulations across the board,” Philip Johnston, a former secretary of health and human services in Massachusetts before the Romney administration, told Salon. “It speaks volumes about the tragic outcome of Romney’s view on regulatory issues. There are two dozen people who died needlessly. It was clearly the responsibility of the company to protect them, but it was also the responsibility of the government at various levels, and, as far as I’m concerned, they failed.”
On Oct. 28, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., called for “a full investigation” into the regulatory issues that led to the epidemic. “There’s a regulatory black hole here,” he said, “but the full assessment of responsibility, state to federal, is ongoing. We need to know everything.”
The owners of NECC have made campaign donations both to Romney and to Massachusetts Republican senatorial candidate Scott Brown, Salon has learned.
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