The politics of fear

WASHINGTON - Thalidomide has been a codeword among opponents of FDA reform, designed to evoke fear of the potential effects of a diminution in FDA power. The word was uttered frequently during congressional testimony and in the media during debates over FDA and product liability regulatory reform legislation in the 104th Congress. Following is a sampler of these comments.

FDA Commissioner David Kessler told the Senate Labor Committee in February: "Quick fixes for quick profits would cost the country dearly. Those who refuse to remember the thalidomide past are condemned to repeat it."