Well this weekend was All Soul's Day, so I thought it appropriate that our own four horsemen of the apocalypse are ushering in our day of doom which will come in the form of the Supreme Court hearing the case of Wyeth v Levine this week, described as the 'Business Case of the Century' by NBC. As noted in a comment on pharmalot.com by Justice in Michigan, the only four people to comment on the Drug and Device Law website in favor of Wyeth's stance in favor of preemption (where FDA approval means you no longer have the right to a day in court if something goes wrong with a prescription medication) were current and former members of FDA counsel, Seth Ray, Sheldon Bradshaw, Gerald Masoudi and Dan Troy. Whadya know, they're all lawyers, which isn't surprising since only lawyers are in favor of preemption, and only FDA and pharma lawyers at that, some of whom are political appointees.
And so I thought I'd bring them to you, the four horsemen of the apocalypse!
In the book of Revelations 6:1-8, the Lamb (Jesus) opens four seals, and with each one a colored horse and its rider jump out.
I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest
Enter the first rider, Sheldon Bradshaw, former FDA chief counsel, who came online to say that complaints of FDA doctors (remember those guys who actually have some expertise in drug safety?) that preemption was a bad idea (as outlined in a report from Henry Waxman's office to the Supreme Court) shouldn't be taken seriously, as this was just a few grousers amongst "thousands of FDA employees", and that ruling against preemption would "open the flood gates" of over-warning and other evils.
When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword
Enter the second rider, Dan Troy, former counsel for pharma who got a political appointment by Bush as chief counsel for the FDA, where he carried the large sword given to him by the pharma-supporting Republicans across the land, filing friends of the court briefs on behalf of drug companies involved in drug safety litigation, under the logic that if the FDA approved it they had an interest in fighting causes that claimed medication related harm. He was the brainchild of preemption, which truly will take peace from the earth. 'You come from the earth and to the earth you return.' Well in Dan's case he came from pharma, worked for a few years at the FDA pushing pharma interests, and then went back to a cushy job with pharma.
My, my! That revolving door is enough to make your head spin!
When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!"
Enter the third rider, Gerald Masoudi! Who continued the work of his predecessor Dan Troy in carrying the sword of preemption across the land.
And our tax payer dollars are paying the salaries of these guys? Wheat and barley, indeed.
When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth
I couldn't find a picture of Ray, so I substituted Peter Pitts, a former FDA official who now lobbies on behalf of pharma in favor of preemption through his PR firm and the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. He is a better substitute for the rider of Death, since he consistently takes positions that put the profits of pharma over the lives of people taking their medicines. Peter uses their blog to take swipes at the likes of Drs. David Graham and Steven Nissen, whose only sins were uncovering risks of Vioxx and Avandia, which god forbid might cut into the profit margins of his beloved pharma.