Jennifer Washburn

Jennifer Washburn is a fellow at the Open Society Institute, where she is examining the impact of privatization, and a newly appointed fellow at the New America Foundation.

Recent Articles

Hired Education

M. Michael Wolfe, a gastroenterologist at Boston University, admits he was duped by the Pharmacia Corporation, the manufacturer of the blockbuster arthritis drug Celebrex. (In 2003, the company was purchased by Pfizer.) In the summer of 2000, The Journal of the American Medical Association asked Wolfe to write a review of a study showing that Celebrex was associated with lower rates of stomach and intestinal ulcers and other complications than two older arthritis medications, diclofenac and ibuprofen. Wolfe found the study, tracking 8,000 patients over a six-month period, persuasive, and penned a favorable review, which helped to drive up Celebrex sales. But early the next year, while serving on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) arthritis advisory committee, Wolfe had occasion to review the same drug trial again, and was flabbergasted by what he saw. Pharmacia's study had run for one year, not six months, as the company had originally led both Wolfe and the Journal to believe...

Studied Interest

M. Michael Wolfe, a gastroenterologist at Boston University, admits he was duped by the Pharmacia Corporation, the manufacturer of the blockbuster arthritis drug Celebrex prior to its purchase by Pfizer in 2003. In the summer of 2000, The Journal of the American Medical Association asked Wolfe to write a review of a study showing that Celebrex was associated with lower rates of stomach and intestinal ulcers and other complications than two older arthritis medications, diclofenac and ibuprofen. Wolfe found the study, tracking 8,000 patients over a six-month period, persuasive, and penned a favorable review, which helped to drive up Celebrex sales. But early the next year, while serving on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) arthritis advisory committee, Wolfe had occasion to review the same drug trial again, and was flabbergasted by what he saw. Pharmacia's study had run for one year, not six months, as the company had originally led both Wolfe and the Journal to believe. When the...

Undue Influence

T he U.S. Food and Drug Administration has long been the target of both industry and ideological forces seeking to scale back regulation. With a Republican now in the White House, conservatives are once again sounding the call. On February 2, The Wall Street Journal published an editorial railing against the FDA's "costly and archaic system of drug regulation." Enabling consumers to access the "wonder drugs" of the twenty-first century, the Journal argued, requires eliminating "the last century's regulations." President Bush, who received contributions of $456,000 from the pharmaceutical industry during his 2000 election campaign, will likely prove receptive to such pleas. Conservatives have been pushing Bush to appoint a new, more industry-friendly FDA commissioner. And next year, when key FDA legislation comes up for reauthorization, it is widely expected that pharmaceutical and biotech firms will mobilize their supporters to ease agency regulations. But this is the wrong remedy for...