Change Isn’t Over – It Is Just Beginning – Chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – Dingell or Waxman?

It has always been a virtual certainty that the outcome of the presidential contest mattered to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries far less than the contests in the Congress.  The election last week decided that Democrats were to achieve solid majorities in both chambers.   But change is not over.  Now come the decisions for committeee assignments and chairs.  No where is that more interesting than in the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

A contest has emerged between two powerful members of Congress – a clash of the titans – leading many to speculate on the outcome about who has the votes.  Congressman John Dingell, the current chair, is being challenged by Congressman Henry Waxman, with the former claiming the mantle that he is more favorable for industry.

Take a look at the activity on this committee from the month of October 2008 – investigations, announcements, statements and reports.

  1. GAO Report Finds FDA’s Foreign Drug Inspection Program Needs Significant Improvement
  2. Dingell, Stupak Request Interview with von Eschenbach on Bisphenol A
  3. Dingell, Stupak Continue Investigation into FDA’s Questionable Handling of Bisphenol A
  4. Dingell, Stupak Continue DTC Ad Investigation
  5. Dingell, Stupak Question Whether FDA Knowingly Allowed Dangerous Drugs to be Sold to U.S. Consumers
  6. Dingell, Stupak Question FDA’s No-Bid Contract with a PR Firm
  7. Dingell, Stupak to Investigate Melamine Contamination in Chinese Milk Products

Perhaps Congressman Waxman would be less interested when he realizes that the name of the Committee has changed from Committee on Energy and Commerce to Dingell, Stupak.  In any case, this is the 31-day track record of the committee from the guys that claim to be friendlier to industry.  Should Congressman Waxman prevail in his quest for the chairmanship, one could expect a great deal more intensity in terms of breadth and depth respecting scrutiny of the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry.  Change is not over.   

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