Sunday, April 22, 2007

OT: A whistleblower at the FDA saves dogs' lives

At a time when US pet food companies are importing tainted materials to put into pet food, here's a story about Victoria Hampshire, a vet who was demoted and nearly fired from her job at the FDA for trying to protect dogs from an unsafe medicine:

Almost 500 dogs had died after taking Proheart 6 — surpassing all competitors combined.

But Wyeth was known for strongly defending its drugs from claims of harm. . . .
Many vets also liked replacing pills with the twice-a-year shot, which put heartworm prevention back into their hands. One vet with ties to Wyeth lectured colleagues about seizing on Proheart 6 as a “hook” to pull in healthy pets for profitable regular exams.

. . .
[Hampshire] was sent to an interim FDA office job within the capability of “anybody with half a brain,” she says. She didn’t know where the investigation would lead. She didn’t know who might be bent on ruining her career, but she looked for a better job somewhere. She saw — or imagined — warning signs and potential enemies everywhere. She hoped for protection from members of Congress she contacted.

. . .

In June 2005, a Wyeth manager made a sales call at an Alabama veterinary practice, where he openly blamed Hampshire for the Proheart 6 recall, according to a confidential letter written by a vet there to the FDA. The Wyeth employee boasted that the company had her investigated by private detectives, and she had been “taken care of,” according to the letter obtained by The Associated Press. He then predicted the drug’s swift return to market.

Read the whole thing; it has a happy ending.

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