From Dr. Mercola:
The recent federal lawsuit filed against former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg again highlights industry influence at the highest government levels.
Hamburg, her husband, Peter Brown, and Johnson & Johnson are charged with conspiracy, racketeering and colluding to conceal the dangers of the antibiotic Levaquin, made by Johnson & Johnson.1
The suit was filed by Larry Klayman, a former federal prosecutor, who claims the parties concealed the drug’s dangers for financial gain. Peter Brown is an executive in the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, which held hundreds of millions of dollars of Johnson & Johnson stock. The suit charges that:2
“While Defendant Hamburg was FDA Commissioner, her husband, Defendant Brown’s annual income, not coincidentally, increased from a reported $10 million in 2008 to an estimated $125 million in 2011 and an estimated $90 million in 2012, due in whole or in part to Defendants’ racketeering conspiracy to withhold information about the devastating, life threatening, and deadly effects of Levaquin.”
Did Hamburg Conceal Drug Dangers for Financial Gain?
Many safety questions arose after Levaquin’s 1996 approval, including the drug’s role in tendon ruptures (like its fluoroquinoline cousin Cipro), possible cell damage, links to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s, and permanent peripheral nerve damage.3
Only after Hamburg left the FDA did the agency put clearer warnings on Levaquin’s label says the complaint.
This is not the first time there have been questions about the relationship between the FDA’s drug decisions and Hamburg’s financial interests. In 2013, Hamburg verbally supported approval of the extreme opioid Zohydro despite its rejection by an FDA advisory board.
It is very rare that the FDA does not accept and follow an advisory board’s decision. Subsequently, 28 state attorneys general, reeling under their states’ opioid epidemics, urged the FDA to reverse the Zohydro decision.
Hamburg defended the Zohydro approval by saying that “100 million Americans” suffer from severe chronic pain, a fact that most public health experts not linked to drug companies dispute.
Yet Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund, also held significant stock in Alkermes, the maker of Zohydro, at the time, giving the appearance of a financial conflict of interest.4
Hamburg Has a Long History of Conflicts of Interest
Questions about financial conflicts of interest clouded Hamburg’s entire tenure. To be appointed, she had to agree to sell her stock and stock options in Henry Schein Inc., the largest seller of dental amalgam (mercury fillings) and a flu vaccine seller, and to recuse herself from regulatory matters affecting Schein.
While Hamburg sold her stock, she retained her stock options, which in a few weeks gained from being “under water” (no value) to having market value.
Under Hamburg’s leadership, the FDA refused to acknowledge the health dangers of mercury fillings in direct opposition to positions taken by the Department of State, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and a worldwide treaty addressing mercury dangers.
Under Hamburg’s leadership, the FDA rolled out pathetic,