Keene, NH - GOP Presidential candidate Ron Paul rebuked the relationship between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the pharmaceutical industry during a press conference, stating that "the FDA and the drug companies are in bed together."
In the video of this event, recorded by Fox News, Paul also points a finger at health insurance firms. "Whether it's Democrats or Republicans reforming the medical care system, these corporations run the show,' he explained.
Known in his home state of Texas as a congressman who speaks his mind, Paul didn't hesitate when asked whether eliminating the FDA would be a reasonable solution. "I think so," he replied, "because they've done more harm than good."
In addition, Paul expressed his belief that collusion between the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry is intended to drive out competition. "What does the FDA do when it comes to alternative or natural products?" he asked. "The FDA and the drug industry keep them off the market."
The claim that the FDA and the drug companies are too intimately tied together has been illustrated by the "revolving door" hiring policies that have existed for years. These practices allow employees from private pharmaceutical research and lobbying firms to join the FDA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory agencies, and return to their private sector jobs when they leave their government positions.
This hiring environment creates a conflict of interest that been blamed for numerous FDA failures, including the case reported by MSNBC in which the arthritis drug Vioxx was linked to thousands of deaths and eventually recalled by drug maker Merck. In 2005, an investigation initiated by the New York Times and conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest revealed that 10 of the 32 FDA panel members who originally approved Vioxx were paid consultants for Merck and other industry giants.
During a 2008 hiring drive, in which the FDA added over 1300 new doctors and scientists to its ranks, senior manager and recruitment director Kimberly Holden admitted that this dangerous relationship is part of the way things work.
"We have had some people who left to go into industry and ended up wanting to come back," Holden told USA Today. "The revolving door swings this way every once in a while."
Even though the The Hill reports that Paul trails Mitt Romney by a substantial margin in the race for the Republican Presidential nomination, his continued criticism of big government and big business is still igniting debate across America about the problems with the current political and financial system. In the end, perhaps he can claim the increase in public awareness of these important issues as a victory in itself.