Contact: Tim Fuller
Executive Director
Gray Panthers

Cipro Deal Puts Industry Profits Ahead of Public Health Consumers Question Pharmaceutical Industry Influence at HHS and FDA

Washington, D.C.-October 25, 2001-The German-based Bayer corporation has prevailed upon the Department of Health and Human Services to put its interests before the safety of U.S. citizens in the Cipro deal struck this week by Secretary Tommy Thompson, according to the SPAN Coalition.

"The deal puts Americans at risk so Bayer can avoid competition," stated Tim Fuller, Gray Panthers Executive Director and SPAN founder. "At some point, consumers and taxpayers are going to demand accountability for the misfeasance at the Department of Health & Human Services that is putting them at risk."

Thompson announced Wednesday that Bayer has agreed to provide the government with up to 300 million doses of Cipro for discounted prices in return for barring generic production. Bayer says it can produce 200 million pills within 60 days, though that is only enough to provide 12 million citizens with 16 Cipro pills each. Many patients exposed to Anthrax require 60-day regimens.

"In a nation of 350 million people facing an unknown threat, that leaves an enormous number without access to the best known treatment," Fuller stated. "Leaders at HHS and FDA are making it clear that they cannot stand up to pharmaceutical companies."

SPAN is concerned that the Cipro deal follows a trend by HHS and FDA officials to avoid responsibility for critical decisions before the agency that pit consumer interests against those of the pharmaceutical industry. A number of pharmaceutical companies have taken advantage of the agencies to prevent access to generic versions of their products.

For example, consumer access to generic versions of the critical heart drug Tiazac and ulcer medicine Prilosec is blocked because the FDA has allowed manufacturers of the drugs to submit false or misleading statements, or to question the agency's expertise. The Secretary of HHS and FDA leaders have refused to properly intervene in the cases, despite pleas from members of Congress that they watch for and reject such abuses. They also have refused to intervene to protect the public in similar cases involving Glucophage (diabetes), BuSpar (anxiety), and Taxol (breast cancer), despite court rulings in some cases that the agency should exercise its authority to act.

"It is one thing to criticize the profiteering of the drug companies," Fuller stated. "But it's even more important to demand accountability from agency officials who are allowing it."

SPAN is a national coalition of 110 senior and consumer advocacy groups founded by the Gray Panthers to ensure that Americans have greater access to affordable medicine. Visit for more information. 733 15th Street, NW, Suite 437, Washington, DC 20005

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