Is FDA Handing Out Gag Orders to Journalists Now?

March 15, 2011

iStock_000003455183XSmallThe current FDA administration is blocking reporters from sharing agency pre-publication releases with experts to obtain outside comment. Help us protect medical freedom of speech!

Many prominent organizations and agencies like FDA release information with an embargo on it. In other words, news organizations will agree not to publish this information until a certain date. This gives the journalists time to research and write their articles, so that their more detailed investigation—often a deeper perspective on a complex story—can appear at the same time as the organization’s press conference.

The journalists customarily share the information with other experts in the field to get a more impartial perspective. These experts are are always apprised of the embargo, must agree to its terms, and fall under the same confidentiality agreement as the media organization.

A few weeks ago, as the FDA was about to unveil a new approval process for medical devices, the agency stated that news organizations must not “call around and get comment ahead of [time]. Needless to say, that would break the embargo.” This is completely contrary to established industry practice. As the blog Embargo Watch recently stated, “Without that, journalists become stenographers. If that’s what the FDA—a public agency—wants, they need to rethink. And if they insist that this is what they mean by a journalistic embargo, then I’d suggest reporters stop agreeing to them. There’s really no benefit to reporters or the public, only to the FDA.”

In response to the FDA’s statement, the nonprofit Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ)—the nation’s largest group of health reporters—sent a strongly worded letter to the FDA, objecting to the administration’s “highly unusual” new policy: “[This] restriction…rewrote a longstanding compact between reporters and various public and scientific organizations. It also hampered or delayed reporters’ ability to fully inform the public about what the FDA is doing with taxpayers’ money.”

The group continued, “Reporters who want to be competitive on a story will essentially have to agree to write only what the FDA wants to tell the world, without analysis or outside commentary.”

As an example of what the FDA is trying to accomplish with this outrageous new policy, take a look at this in-depth article published the day the aforementioned medical device approval announcement was made: a major policy change with potentially huge safety ramifications was covered in seventy-seven little words. Dull, absurdly brief, and decidedly uncontroversial—exactly what the FDA wanted.

Please send your message to the FDA, and ask the agency drop its embargo policy! We must make sure that the FDA allows expert review of its decisions and documents released on an embargoed basis, consistent with customary practices in the media industry. Please take action now!

TO SEND YOUR MESSAGE TO THE FDA

Click THIS LINK to go to the Action Alert page. Once there, fill out the form with your name and address, etc., and customize your letter. We have a suggested message for you, but please feel free to add your own comments to the letter.

We’d also love to hear your comments about this article—just add your thoughts below—but remember that the messages below are only seen by our ANH-USA readers and not Congress, the FDA, etc.

Source:  Alliance for Natural Health USA  – Cross-posted at True Health Is True Wealth

Related:

Watchdog Group Confuses Our Consumer Activists With “Well-Connected Lobbyists”!
A few weeks ago, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a report representing ANH-USA (and many other organizations’ efforts to protect natural health consumer rights) as “another disturbing example of pay-to-play in Washington.” Huh? Come again?

About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place". At age 62 I find myself fighting inoperable uterine Cancer and thanks to the man upstairs and the prayers from so many people including many of my readers from AskMarion and JustOneMorePet... I'm beating it. After losing our business because of the economy and factors related to the re-election of President Obama in 2012 followed by 16-mos of job hunting, my architect-trained husband is working as a trucker and has only been home approximately 5-days a month since I was diagnosed, which has made everything more difficult and often lonely... plus funds are tight. Our family medical deductible is 12K per year for two of us; thank you ObamaCare. But thanks to donations from so many of you, we are making ends meet as I go through treatment while taking care of my father-in-law who is suffering from late stage Alzheimer's and my mother-in-law who suffers from RA and onset dementia as well as hearing loss, for which there are no caretaker funds, as I continue the fight here online to inform and help restore our amazing country. And finally I need to thank a core group of family, friends, and readers... all at a distance, who check in with me regularly. Plus, I must thank my furkids who have not left my side through this fight. You can see them at JustOneMorePet.
This entry was posted in Health and wellness, Knowledge Is Power, News and politics, Watch the Other Hand and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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