, Newburyport, MA

October 24, 2012

Presents not to be wished for

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

It is not uncommon for gifts (presents) that we wish for to be filled with unexpected surprises. Recently a letter was sent to The Daily News by a resident of Amesbury that advocated for the election of Mitt Romney, Scott Brown and Richard Tisei. It stated that they were basically bipartisan, good independent guys who are advocates for the people.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and recent events point to the serious consequences of their activities. A company called New England Compounding located in Framingham working on the margins of the drug industry without FDA oversight released contaminated product to the marketplace with deadly consequences. The mantra of Mr. Romney, Mr. Brown and Mr. Tisei is that regulation is “killing our companies.” Now it turns out one of the companies that Mr. Brown went to bat for in Washington, and from whom he received more than $10,000 in campaign contributions over the course of 2.5 years (a portion recently donated to charity), has killed 15 people and sickened hundreds of others. Now that does not mean that Scott Brown is directly responsible for those deaths, but he bears indirect responsibility for fostering an ideology that says regulation is almost always bad. In fact, regulation of almost all industry has come from incidents like the New England Compounding tragedy. It makes one appreciate the important role that government plays in “providing for the common good” by regulating industry.

Unfortunately, greed can drive companies to maximize profits at the expense of the community. This appears to be true for New England Compounding now (see recent NY Times article). Unfortunately, money and politics are so tied together that we are told to believe that Mr. Romney, Mr. Brown and Mr. Tisei are just good, bipartisan gentlemen. They are not. They are participants in a party that today almost always wants to do the bidding of business without seriously investigating the consequences.

I have worked for 30 years in the diagnostic industry that is regulated by the FDA. I have had at least 20 products go through the regulatory 510K process, and have found the FDA to be both difficult and tough. But they often ask excellent questions, demand the highest in quality and generally help industry improve the quality of their product. As a significant stakeholder in multiple diagnostic companies, I know there is a cost associated with regulation, but without it we are left with a higher incidence of tragedy and unintended consequences that we all regret. So when you wish for a gift (present), make sure you know what you are getting.

Stanley M. Liffmann