As a long-time observer of the Amgen/Epo saga (Ye gads, did I really write my first major investigative article on that subject 13 years ago? How time flies), I thoroughly enjoyed Peter Whoriskey’s retelling of the story on the front page of the Washington Post. Don’t miss it if you are looking for one-stop shopping to be brought up to date.
I have only one complaint (other than labeling the story ’exclusive’ on the web; really guys?). Amid all the details about a greedy company, greedy physicians, greedy dialysis clinics, feckless bureaucrats and bought-and-paid-for politicians, I was saddened by the story’s failure to mention one politician and his capable aide, who fought for well over a decade to bring this story to light. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Cal., and Bill Vaughan, who later left Capitol Hill to work for Consumers Union before retiring, worked tirelessly to expose Amgen’s shenanigans on the pricing front and later helped scientists who finally documented the safety risks from overuse of the drug to bring their story before the Food and Drug Administration and officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Stark demanded the GAO reports mentioned in the story and triggered the IG investigations.
From time to time, public servants and public officials are heroes and engage in the years of grunt work it takes to bring injustice to light and curb the unsafe use of drugs or other potentially dangerous products. In this era of knee-jerk hatred of everything government does, it would be nice if the hometown newspaper of America’s political class occasionally took note.