Who Will Watch Big Pharma

Now that Bart Stupak’s leaving? I wonder if the netroots have only strengthened the more conservative elements in the Democratic party by pushing him out. Except for abortion rights (big exception, I know), Bart was still a progressive vote on most issues. Now, if we lose the seat to another wingnut, what exactly have we accomplished?

The answer is unclear, although no doubt many pharma execs and FDA officials won’t miss Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat who is retiring from Congress after a nasty brawl over health care reform and, in particular, abortion coverage (background here).

As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Stupak regularly took on safety issues. Along with John Dingell, who formerly headed the House committee, Stupak investigted Merck and Schering-Plough for allegedly delaying the release of unfavorable clinical trial data for their Vytorin cholesterol med (see here and here). He also subpoenaed FDA investigators for approving the Ketek antibiotic, despite knowing a key safety study was fraught with problems; Sanofi-Aventis execs were also grilled at a hearing (look here).

Other claims to fame include probing the FDA’s handling of Baxter’s Heparin, the blood thinner linked to hundreds of patient reactions and four deaths; TV ads for Pfizer’s Lipitor; and Roche’s Accutane, which was a very personal issue for Stupak. In 2000, his 17-year-old son, who was using the acne med, committed suicide. Stupak personally investigated whether the drug could be tied to psychiatric side effects, and went to FDA headquarters to sift through documents. During one hearing, he held up the packaging from his son’s prescription.

So who might succeed Stupak? The Pink Sheet speculates the possibilities include Elliot Engel of New York, Gene Green of Texas and Diana DeGette of Colorado, who have seniority on the full committee.

4 thoughts on “Who Will Watch Big Pharma

  1. Judging politicians at their most extreme ups or downs is common with the the netroots. Ordinary followers of politics have no knowledge of the multifaceted implications of a politicians day in and day out work. When Stupak wanted to exclude abortion from the health care changes, he was punched in the mouth and the stomach repeated all over the pretend lefty blogisthan.

    There are enough knowledgeable people around to avoid Teabagger-like reaction. We are damaging ourselves. We did it before. Lieberman used to be a strong supporter of labor. Nobody wanted to know that. Labor union supported Lieberman, they are not back stabbers, blogisthan pounced. We will never know whether that drove him to the craziness he achieved as of 2008.

  2. Why do women always end up on the downside of compromise?

    As the great Helen of ‘Margaret and Helen’ fame says:
    “Bart Stupak is an ass. If he is in our “big tent” then our tent is too big. But if you ask me, the real problem is probably that the “pup tent” that greets him each morning is too small.

    Abortion has no business being a political game… a sound bite to make the evening news. It is a medical decision between a woman and her doctor. If you have a moral dilemma or a religious issue, then don’t have an abortion. It really is that simple. Trust me. I know.

    Abortion is not a dirty word and I am sick and tired of watching holier than thou white men in Congress pretending that they have any concept of what a woman goes through when making such an important decision. For some women it is a time of great sadness – a pregnancy gone wrong, a wanted child not to be. For some women it is a time of great relief – a decision to delay parenthood. It is a deeply, personal decision made for deeply, personal reasons. And, yes, for some women it is a decision they choose not to make – again for deeply personal reasons.

    Bart, if you want to reduce abortions, vote to fully fund family planning and comprehensive sex education. Otherwise, shut the hell up. We don’t care what you think about our wombs.”

  3. Yeah, Koshem, that’s another example. I just think we might do better at lobbying issues directly with the Democratic opposition instead of quarantining them and trying to push them out.

  4. When Stupak wanted to exclude abortion from the health care changes, he was punched in the mouth and the stomach repeated all over the pretend lefty blogisthan.

    Gosh, how unreasonable. It’s not like abortion is a legal procedure used by a significant portion of women or anything.

    Stupak’s problem isn’t just that he tried to “exclude abortion from the health care changes,” it’s that he dug in on the point even after the Senate came up with the Nelson compromise, which would have done approximately the same thing. But no, Bart wanted to be the kingmaker (not to mention do the bidding of the Bishops).

    And now his buddies have turned on him and he’s running away with his tail between his legs.

    There are other Democrats who can watch the pharma companies, and most of them are pro-choice.

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