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A 15-month Congressional inquiry into FDA enforcement of the nation’s food and drug laws has found a frighteningly sharp decline over the last five years. The number of warning letters to drug companies, medical device makers and others is down 54% from 2000 to 2005. Enforcement actions was down 65%, despite a wave of problems with devices, including implantable defibrillators and pacemakers. Although investigators at the FDA continue to uncover the same number of problems, top officials increasingly overrule their enforcement recommendations. Not surprisingly, the watchdog organization Public Citizen has noted that the agency now receives about $380 million a year in fees from drug makers, so the public is getting the kind of FDA that the industry is paying for them to get.

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