Dangerous FTC Decision on Vehicle Safety Defects

Honda Recalls 1990-2015. Honda earned the distinction as the car manufacturer with the most safety recalls, with over 13 million models affected in this period. For perspective, Honda’s recalls affected more vehicles than all the recalls of Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, BMW, Nissan and Mitsubishi combined. Credit

A decision late last year by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was a repudiation of their statutory duty to protect consumers, writes Cathy Chase, Vice President of Governmental Affairs at the Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety. By finalizing consent orders with General Motors (GM) and the Lithia and Koons auto dealership chains, which allow them to advertise used cars with unrepaired safety defects under recall using misleading terms, consumers are duped and safety is jeopardized.  Unsuspecting consumers will be tricked by labels such as safe, repaired for safety, having passed a rigorous inspection, and using the imprimatur of certified.  Families will walk into dealerships to buy cars, be informed that the vehicles have been given a safety stamp of approval, be required to sign a pile of papers with a message tucked in that the car may be subject to un-repaired recalls for safety issues, and will drive off the lot at their own peril and a danger of everyone on the roads.

PHARMA to launch campaign against Cuomo’s plan to control prescription drug prices

Big Pharma is striking back at Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to control the price of prescription drugs, reports the New York Daily News. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is set to launch a new campaign on Wednesday calling on state lawmakers to reject Cuomo’s plan, saying it will do nothing to improve patient access to needed prescription drugs while threatening research and development and New York jobs. The “Prescribe Real Solutions” campaign will include online ads, a new website and a series of events across the state urging New Yorkers to contact their legislators, those close to the effort say. State of Politics, meanwhile reports that Gov. Cuomo’s top health officials told state lawmakers that price control regulations will withstand legal challenges.

As Obesity Rises, Remote Pacific Islands Plan to Abandon Junk Food

While many governments struggle to ban soda to curb obesity, writes The New York Times, the tiny Torba Tourism Council in the remote Pacific island nation of Vanuatu is planning to outlaw all imported food at government functions and tourist establishments across the province’s 13 inhabited islands. Provincial leaders hope to turn them instead into havens of local organic food. The ban, scheduled to take effect in March, comes as many Pacific island nations struggle with an obesity crisis brought on in part by the overconsumption of imported junk food. “We want to ban all other junk food from this province,” Luke Dini, the council’s chairman and a retired Anglican priest, said in a telephone interview from Torba.

Assessing the health impact of transnational corporations: a case study on McDonald’s Australia

 

An Art Deco McDonald’s in Clifton Hill, Victoria,  Australia. Credit.

The practices of transnational corporations affect population health through production methods, shaping social determinants of health, or influencing the regulatory structures governing their activities. There has been limited research on community exposures to TNC policies and practices. Our pilot research used McDonald’s Australia to test methods for assessing the health impacts of one TNC within Australia. We adapted existing Health Impact Assessment methods to assess McDonald’s activities. We identified both positive and detrimental aspects of McDonald’s Australian operations across the scope of the HIA framework. We found that McDonald’s outlets were slightly more likely to be located in areas of lower socioeconomic status. McDonald’s workplace conditions were found to be more favourable than those in many other countries which reflects compliance with Australian employment regulations. The breadth of findings revealed the need for governments to strengthen regulatory mechanisms that are conducive to health; the opportunity for McDonald’s to augment their corporate social responsibility initiatives and bolster reputational endorsement; and civil society actors to inform their advocacy towards health and equity outcomes from TNC operations. Our study indicates that undertaking a corporate health impact assessment is possible, with the different methods revealing sufficient information to realise that strong regulatory frameworks are need to help to avoid or to mediate negative health impacts.

Citation: Anaf J, Baum FE, Fisher M, Harris E, Friel S. Assessing the health impact of transnational corporations: a case study on McDonald’s Australia. Globalization and Health 2017;13: 7.

Republicans Are Using Big Tobacco’s Secret Science Playbook to Gut Health Rules

Much of the country has been watching in horror as Donald Trump has made good on his promises to eviscerate the Environmental Protection Agency, writes Sharon Lerner for The Intercept.  He has delayed 30 regulations, severely limiting the information staffers can release, and installing Scott Pruitt as the agency’s administrator to destroy the agency from within. But even those keeping their eyes on the EPA may have missed a quieter attack on environmental protections now being launched in Congress. This week, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing on a bill to undermine health regulations that is based on a strategy cooked up by tobacco industry strategists more than two decades ago. At what Republicans on the committee have dubbed the “Making EPA Great Again” hearing, lawmakers are likely to discuss “The Secret Science Reform Act,” a bill that would limit the EPA to using only data that can be replicated or made available for “independent analysis.” The proposal may sound reasonable enough at first. But because health research often contains confidential personal information that is illegal to share, the bill would prevent the EPA from using many of the best scientific studies.

Senior ATF official proposes loosening gun regulations

The second-highest-ranking official at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has written a proposal to reduce gun regulations, including examining a possible end to the ban on importing assault weapons into the United States, reports The Washington Post.  The 11-page “white paper” by Ronald B. Turk, associate deputy director and chief operating officer of the ATF, calls for removing restrictions on the sale of gun silencers; allowing gun dealers to have more guns used in crimes traced to their stores before the federal government requires additional information from the dealer; and initiating a study on lifting the ban on imported assault weapons.

Trump Calls for Lower Drug Prices, Fewer Regulations in Meeting with Pharmaceutical Executives

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President Trump met with leaders of some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies Tuesday and emphasized the need to lower “astronomical” drug prices, decrease regulations and bring more drug manufacturing into the United States, reports The Washington Post. Trump offered no specific policies, but mentioned increasing competition and “bidding wars” as a way to bring down prices. In the past, he has lashed out at the pharmaceutical industry for “getting away with murder” and threatened to use the government’s bargaining power to force down drug prices for programs like Medicare.

Public Citizen Response

In a response to this proposal, Michael Carome, Director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group wrote:

President Donald Trump’s preposterous promise to pharmaceutical company CEOs to slash U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations by 75 to 80 percent would, if fulfilled, fundamentally destroy the ability of the agency to protect patients and consumers from unsafe or ineffective medications and medical devices, hazardous foods and dietary supplements, and dangerous tobacco products, among other things. The end result would be countless preventable deaths, injuries and illnesses across the U.S. Trump’s horrifying proposal reflects utter ignorance about the FDA’s essential role in protecting public health and once again demonstrates his commitment to placing corporate profits above protecting the safety of the American people.

Tracking the Effects of Corporate Practices on Health