March 5

Shame on the editors of the Washington Times!

Were the editors of the Washington Times asleep at the helm when they disseminated an OpEd tirade against Senator Charles Grassley, Senator Max Baucus, and FDA’s senior safety officer, David Graham, MD. without disclosing relevant facts that (at the least) raise questions about the author’s integrity ?

The author of yesterday’s OpEd, Dr. Gilbert Ross, is identified as, "Medical Director" of the  American Council on Science and Health (ACSH).

Undisclosed to readers is the fact that Dr. Ross is a convicted felon whose medical license had been revoked. After being tried and convicted of 13 counts of fraud (1995)–Specifically, Medicaid fraud and racketeering. Ross served two years in prison. . When he sought to restore his medical license in 2001, Ross acknowledged to a New York State licensure committee , "I violated every ethical trust placed in me as a doctor."  
The state licensing board placed him on three year probation, until Dec. 31, 2004. 

According to the Dec. 18, 2000 Report of the New York State Committee on the Professions Application for Restoration of Physician License, Ross lied throughout his trial, acknowledging after his prison stint: "I violated every ethical trust placed in me as a doctor."

The thrust of the Ross/ ACSH attack is the comprehensive investigative report by Senators Grassley and Baucus bringing to light  the content of GlaxoSmithKline documents revealing the magnitude of a potential cardiac risk posed by the company’s diabetes drug, Avandia’s.
The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) hired Ross in 1998 as medical director.
ACSH’s financial support from corporate donors–which ACSH stopped disclosing in the 1990s–comes from the major chemical, pharmaceutical and food manufacturers.

The Ross / ACSH OpEd piece attempts to divert attention from the preventable death toll linked to Avandia, calling  "The trumped-up Avandia "scandal."’

The following claim is an example of blatant lies promulgated by the medical director of ACSH:

"studies have shown that newer drugs tend to work better, preventing more illness and death and saving health care dollars in the long run."

The evidence shows the opposite to be true: only 1 in 7 new drugs offers any clinical advantage over older drugs. Most new drugs pose higher risks–inasmuch as they have not been tested sufficiently–especially for long-term use, whereas the safety of older drugs is documented. [1]  New drugs do NOT save health care dollars–they are industry’s most profitable products. Indeed new drugs are ALWAYS more expensive than old drugs–they are the reason our healthcare costs are bankrupting the US economy.

The objective of the Ross / ACSH OpEd piece in the Washington Times is to lobby against the establishment of an independent drug safety division within the FDA:

"The authors [Grassley, Baucus] want to create an independent drug-safety division within – but separate from – the FDA. Even though our drug regulators are the world’s most demanding, the senators and Dr. Graham want even more stringency. They have long been advocates for an even more cautious, risk-averse FDA, elevating safety above all other concerns…"

Indeed, today’s ACSH news release ("ACSH Dispatch ") confirms our assessment:

"As ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross wrote in yesterday’s Washington Times, two senators have been attempting to turn criticism of one GlaxoSmithKline diabetes drug into an excuse to create an entire new drug-approval bureaucracy — even slower than the existing one.  "Grassley and Baucus sent this 300-page report to the Senate and the FDA attacking GSK," laments Ross." 

"Institutional Foundations of the Vioxx Disaster" presented by Sociologist Donald Light, American Sociological Association,  August 2008

 Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav

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