Conspiracy or coincidence? FDA chief Gottlieb joins Pfizer/Chantix team
When the former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Twitter last week that he is accepting a new job at Big Pharma’s Pfizer company, many Americans were revolted though not entirely shocked. The vaping community, of course, saw this coming a mile down the pike.
Pfizer is the manufacturer of one of the most controversial drugs on the planet. The prescription medication Chantix is often advertised in television commercials as a stop smoking aid, but it also has a very long history of causing depression and inducing suicidal thoughts on its users. The problems are so widespread that WebMD felt compelled to issue a suicide warning for the antismoking drug.
The Pfizer corporation seems a strange place to land for a former FDA Commissioner in search of a new gig. Unfortunately, history begs to differ. Over the past 40 years, every FDA commissioner – except for one – has left his government job and headed over to Big Pharma.
What’s different about the Gottlieb situation is that he’s just spent the past 2+ years demonizing vaping while refusing to endorse e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. In fact, to this very day, the FDA still officially considers electronic cigarettes to be “tobacco products,” even though they contain zero tobacco.
Instead of vaping to quit smoking, the FDA recommends that smokers trying to quit should only purchase FDA-approved products like nicotine patches, gums, lozenges – and Chantix – all of which are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. Is this a coincidence, or do the conspiracy enthusiasts indeed have a point?
FDA’s Gottlieb instigated the moral panic over teen vaping
Less than a year ago in September of 2018, Dr. Scott Gottlieb wrote a scathing press announcement in which he labeled teen vaping in the United States as a national epidemic. Citing FDA statistics – which have yet to be revealed to the public – Gottlieb said that there was an 80 percent rise in underage use of e-cigs and vaping products since 2015.
Gottlieb’s letter instantly went viral. After all, this “teen vaping epidemic” was attractive fodder for a mainstream media addicted to gotcha stories and catastrophic “the world is ending” gobbledygook. Never mind checking the facts. If the FDA says it, then it must be true. Right?
“The steps I’m announcing today are the initial elements of these new efforts that we’re committing to right away. I believe there’s an epidemic of youth use. We have good reason to draw this conclusion based on the trends and data that we’ve seen, some of which is still preliminary and will be finalized in the coming months and presented publicly. But our actions today are firmly rooted in what we’ve learned. There’s no mistaking the risks.”
FDA Commissioner Gottlieb then sent twelve warning letters to the top vapor companies in the country, warning them against using “kid-appealing” advertising strategies that might lure youngsters into the world of vaping. Gottlieb also warned the vaping industry as a whole that he and his agency would be taking a closer look at the current regulatory requirements and perhaps tightening them if things did not turn around immediately.
Gottlieb supports medicinal pathway for FDA-approval of vapes
As the fresh-faced Gottlieb made the rounds on cable news, his aggression against vaping only grew more upsetting and his rhetoric more panic-inducing. Teen vaping was so bad in America, he would imply, that perhaps the best way to make sure that e-cigs like Juuls didn’t fall into the wrong hands was to create an FDA-approval process similar to that of over-the-counter (OTC) medications like nicotine gums.
And who has the expertise and political connections to navigate this highly complex process filled with unending amounts of bureaucratic red tape? The pharmaceutical companies.
The story gets even weirder. Just hours before accepting the position at Pfizer, Gottlieb wrote an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal, entitled The FDA’s Challenge on E-Cigs. Throughout the article, he seems to be befuddled as to why the Juul craze is creating such chaos in America. He then restates his previous idea that perhaps the easiest way to resolve the issue entirely is for the FDA to create an OTC drug pathway for vapor product approval…just like Pfizer has done with Chantix.
Did Gottlieb already know that he was joining the Pfizer team when he wrote that Op-Ed? Dollars to donuts, he most likely did. Vaping may not be completely eradicated in the long-term, but if Gottlieb has his way, the only way to buy them in the very near future will be through Big Pharma companies like Pfizer.
Related Article: Big Pharma and the FDA deeming regulations: A history of corruption
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