Friday, February 27, 2009

Scourge of the FDA: the late Rep. L.H. Fountain, D-N.C.

Readers appalled at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's failure to closely monitor a peanut plant operations in Blakely, Georgia and a syringe packager in Raleigh http://www.southernstudies.org/2009/02/more-regulatory-failure-fda-didnt-inspect-syringe-plant-despite-complaints.html may be longing for the leadership of the late U.S. Rep. L.H. Fountain, D-N.C.

Fountain, who died in Raleigh in 2002, was a courtly Southern gentleman, a conservative Democrat from Tarboro who was hardly regarded as a radical in any fashion. He was the senior member of the N.C. delegation in his later years, and affectionately referred to as "Dean."

But early in his career in Washington as the congressman from North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, Fountain realized how critical the FDA was to safe foods and drugs in America. Over the years he became a watchdog of the FDA, frequently writing pointed letters to the agency over reported problems and holding congressional hearings before his governmental operations oversight subcommittee. He steered the work of hundreds of investigations into the FDA's operations.

The Peanut Corporation of America has been linked to 666 illnesses and possibly linked to nine deaths. The AM2PAT plant in Raleigh has been linked to 300 cases of sickness and perhaps five deaths. In both cases, inadequate inspections and failures to follow through on reports of problems exposed the FDA's ineptitude. Had Fountain still been in Congress, he may have been involved in inquiries, issued subpoenas and held hearings into the FDA's oversight of these problem companies long ago. Fountain served 15 terms in Congress -- 1953-83 -- and was responsible in the 1960s for exposing the shenanigans of Billy Sol Estes, a former ally of Lyndon Johnson.

We could benefit from another L.H. Fountain right about now.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fountain was doing his Job that he was elected to do right? Seems that far too many members of congress have forgotten what they were elected to do when sent to D.C. Too many falling over themselves to be regulars on a Don Imus or Chris Mathews show.

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"too many falling over themselves" to see how much money they can spend in the shortest amount of time! And spending too much time on whether sports figures use steroids. I could care less about steroids! They need to make our government work! Stop grandstanding and constantly campaining.

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