Whistle Where You Work #4: The Assault on Scientific Integrity, 'Preemption'
First, our panel segment looks at the Assault on Scientific Integrity by the Bush administration over the past seven years. Many federal scientists charge that the Bush White House suppressed science, or created its own, in order to serve ideological and theological ends. When it comes to science, critics say, the Bush administration has, in Chairman Maos term, put politics in command. Where has the scientific community truly lost ground, and in which pressing areas? What are some examples? Have scientists permanently lost opportunities? Guests for this segment include Francesca Grifo, Director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Rick Piltz, Director of Climate Science Watch.
Next we sit down with the Alliance for Justice's Simon Heller to discuss a Supreme Court case that was decided in early 2009. In September 2008, the court heard oral arguments over whether a consumer injured by a drug approved by the FDA is barred from suing the drugs manufacturer. In legal jargon, the issue is called preemption. The notion is this: the federal government, through the FDA, has the exclusive authority to approve new medical devices and drugs and declare them safe. Once a product is approved by the FDA, a state personal injury suit for failing to adequately warn of dangers would be barred preempted. Not surprisingly, drug-makers and the FDA both favor preemption, while trial lawyers and state governments oppose it. But there is a profound issue of justice at stake here, argues Heller, the legal director of AIJ, which strongly opposes preemption of personal injury lawsuits for drug injuries. (Editors Note: The Supreme Court found against preemption involving prescription drugs in March 2009. But it remains the relevant finding regarding medical devices, as decided by the court in early 2008)
This episode was filmed on September 23, 2008.