- “Report: Government warnings about antidepressants may have led to more suicide attempts” [Washington Post]
- Celebrity doc known for touting diet-health snake oil told off by Senators known for touting socio-economic snake oil [NBC, Business Week]
- Physicians’ prescription of drugs off-label may “seem odd to the uninitiated, but it is called the practice of medicine, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with [it].” [Steven Boranian/D&DLaw, Sidley, Steve McConnell/D&DLaw (False Claims Act angle, with much background on that law generally)]
- “23andMe Closer to FDA Approval” [Matthew Feeney/Cato, earlier]
- FDA guidance could foreclose most use of tweets, Google ads and other character-limited vehicles in pharmaceutical promotion [Jeffrey Wasserstein/FDA Law Blog, Elizabeth N. Brown/Reason]
- Average wholesale price (AWP) litigation: “Pennsylvania High Court Joins Judicial Stampede That’s Trampling State Attorneys-General/Plaintiffs’ Bar Alliances” [WLF, Beck, earlier]
- California infant’s death opens window on lucrative (for some prescribers) intersection of workers’ comp and compounded pharmaceuticals [Southern California Public Radio]
A year ago the Cato Institute interviewed Jill Erber, of Northern Virginia cheese shop Cheesetique, after the FDA decided to ban the traditional French cheese Mimolette. More on the FDA and cheese here, here, here, etc.
More: Baylen Linnekin at Reason on why the FDA hasn’t really backed off its latest on wooden shelving (“You dine at the pleasure of the FDA. Enjoy it while it lasts.”); also at Reason, Elizabeth Nolan Brown. And some of the reassurances we heard at the time about FSMA being no big deal are here and here.
Yes! Following an enormous outcry from cheese makers, commentators, and the general public, the agency beats a hasty retreat. Commentator/ Pepperdine lawprof Greg McNeil has the details at Forbes (and his earlier commentary on the legalities of the agency’s action is also informative). Earlier here.
In a classic bureaucratic move, the agency denied it had actually issued a new policy (technically true, if you accept the premise that a policy letter from its chief person in charge of cheese regulation is not the same as a formally adopted new policy) and left itself the discretion to adopt such a policy in future if it wishes (merely declaring itself open to persuasion that wood shelving might prove compatible with the FSMA).
This is also a lesson for people in other regulated industries. When government officials make pronouncements that don’t seem grounded in law or policy, and threaten your livelihood with an enforcement action, you must organize and fight back. While specialized industries may think that nobody cares, the fight over aged cheese proves that people’s voices can be heard…
There is a less optimistic version, however. It happens that a large number of editors, commentators, and others among the chattering classes are both personally interested in the availability of fine cheese and familiar enough with the process by which it is made to be un-cowed by claims of superior agency expertise. That might also be true of a few other issues here and there — cottage food sold at farmer’s markets, artisanal brewing practices — but it’s inevitably not going to be true of hundreds of other issues that arise under the new Food Safety Modernization Act. In a similar way, the outcry against CPSIA, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, rose to a politically effective level only on a selected few issues (publishers and libraries got a fix so that older children’s books would not have to be trashed; youth motorsports eventually obtained an exemption, and so forth) but large numbers of smaller children’s products and specialties whose makers had less of a political voice simply disappeared.
More: Andrew Coulson, Cato, and on the trade aspects, K. William Watson; Chuck Ross, Daily Caller (quoting me at length for which thanks). On the FDA’s new statement: “Typical bureaucratic doublespeak that seems meant to maximize uncertainty for the regulated community” [Eric Bott of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce] “This was the worst possible outcome. It reinforces elites’ view that regulators are reasonable and wise and will fix mistakes.” [@random_eddie] “Pay no attention to the Leviathan behind the cheesecloth” [Scott Lincicome, in an exchange after a writer at Slate observed that “Libertarians aren’t the only ones” who might want to keep board-aged cheese legal] (Vox, Reason, Carly Ledbetter/HuffPo; & welcome Instapundit, Alexander Cohen/Atlas Society, Q and O readers)
We warned at the time that the ill-conceived Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 would tend to choke off many non-industrial food sources. Now the FDA, interpreting FSMA as part of its regulatory process, is moving to ban the aging of cheese on wooden boards, a process that dates back thousands of years and has been practiced safely by many of the world’s finest cheese makers. The agency apparently intends to apply the same standard to imported cheese as well, which means that in addition to devastating artisanal cheese producers in this country, the move would cut off Americans’ access to large numbers of classic European cheeses, many of which, like Comte and Reblochon, “are required to be aged on wood by their standard of identity.” [Jeanne Carpenter, Cheese Underground (Wisconsin); Matt Spiegler, Cheese Notes]
Our coverage of FSMA, including its many-sided impact on traditional and artisanal farm and food practice, is here.
More: “Old guy in the cell: What are you in for? New guy in the cell: I aged cheese on wooden boards.” [Scott Greenfield] Plus: William Watson, Cato; Greg McNeal, Forbes, on the legalities including an apparent shift in the FDA’s earlier stance approving wood board aging]
Update June 11: agency backs down.
- Alarming: “2,500 Georgia Doctors Lack Malpractice Insurance: Report” [Insurance Journal]
- Improper FDA contact with trial lawyers behind closed doors? [DDLaw, Ed Silverman, WSJ CorpInt]
- AFGE fights efforts to refer patients at troubled VA hospitals to civilian specialists [Betsy McCaughey, Investors] Civil service rules entrench bad VA managers [Rep. Jeff Miller, Time mag]
- Improved understanding of brain damage in newborns could have litigation implications [New York Times “Well”]
- Budget measure widens Medicaid program rights to recoup medical outlays by grabbing part of plaintiff tort recoveries [King & Spalding]
- “Ronald Reagan and AIDS: Correcting the Record” [Carl Cannon]
- Rating the FDA’s various drug review divisions [Manhattan Institute, The Hill, more]
- “Particularly relevant …is the uncontested fact that Defendants – as manufacturers of [high-fructose corn syrup] – do not control how much HFCS is used in the finished products that Plaintiff consumed.” [New York federal court dismissing case, h/t Nicki Neily]
- New frontier of public health disapproval: Girl Scout cookies [NPR]
- “Former Kellogg Co. CEO Carlos Gutierrez says food industry is under attack by FDA” [MLive]
- Whole milk, least processed of widely available milk varieties, would be banned in Connecticut childcares if pending bill passes [Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
- House-passed expansion of Jones Act domestic-flag rules for food aid would harm hungry recipients and US farmers alike [Coyote]
- “Archaic distribution laws” hamper craft-beer sector [Steve Hindy, NY Times, related Nick Gillespie (Florida)]
- Facing mounting fiasco in school lunch program, feds double down [Baylen Linnekin, Reason]
The Food and Drug Administration is signaling that it may rethink a much-criticized rule that would severely restrict the reuse as livestock feed of “spent” grain used in the making of beer and other fermented beverages. [WLF “Legal Pulse”] That’s good news as far as it goes, but it’s a form of exception-making that would seem to be driven at least in part by the high visibility of this one particular recycling-and-sustainability constituency (microbrewery beer is a hot leisure activity, and and craft/organic animal husbandry is a popular consumer enthusiasm these days in educated urban circles as well). The implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 is endangering a wide range of other local, non-industrial, and traditional farming and foodmaking techniques, “such as using house-made fertilizers and irrigating from creeks,” that might not enjoy the broad constituency of microbrewing. Will anyone in Washington stick up for them?
Jacob Grier has an analysis, and predicts a regulatory snarl for e-cigarettes based on a poorly written statute, cartel profits for major cigarette makers, bad news for cigar and pipe smokers, and wider black markets.
Mark Steyn revisits the subject of Kinder Surprise eggs, the chocolate-wrapped toys popular in much of the rest of the world but forbidden under a distinctive U.S. law which bans the “embedding of non-nutritive items” in confectionery. According to the Department of Homeland Security, border agents confiscated more than 25,000 of the prohibited treats in more than 2,000 seizures during one recent year. Earlier here (Steyn: “The real choking hazard is the vise-like grip of government”), here, etc.
- Academics have underestimated sensitivity of medical system to liability pressures [Michael Frakes, SSRN via TortsProf]
- “Nobody has gone out and bought a new home” — Mark Lanier talks down his verdict knocking $9 billion out of Takeda and Lilly after two hours of deliberation by a Lafayette, La. jury [Reuters] Japanese drugmaker says it had won three previous trials [ABA Journal]
- Nursing home in living-up-to-its-name town of West Babylon sued over hiring male strippers to entertain residents [NYP, more (wife of complainant attended display), ABA Journal]
- “Reining in FDA regulation of mobile health apps” [Nita Farahany, Volokh/WaPo]
- Another setback for plaintiffs as Arkansas tosses $1.2 billion Risperdal marketing case against Johnson & Johnson [AP/Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Eric Alexander/Drug and Device Law, earlier here and here]
- “Spacecraft collision injuring occupant”: docs scratch their heads at new revamp to billing codes [Steven Syre, Boston Globe via Future of Capitalism]
- FDA preclearance, drug litigation: “Most [patients] never know they were harmed, because we never know what we might have had.” [John Stossel]