Federal MedWatch System Rejected in Public Safety and Security Committee
Ablechild’s legislative efforts to bring awareness to consumers of Connecticut about the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch System have been shot down before ever getting off the ground. It is an odd story, but one that seems to be standard operating procedure for the state’s legislative body.
On Tuesday, February 18th, Ablechild co-founder, Sheila Matthews, drove thru a snowstorm in order to personally testify before the Public Safety and Security Committee regarding two legislative measures: an Amendment, which would include training law enforcement personnel about the existence, and availability of the MedWatch System, and also a new bill requesting that February 14th of each year be recognized as MedWatch Awareness Day.
Ablechild also submitted the two requests electronically prior to the 18th and checked in with the Committee clerk prior to the public hearing. Ablechild was assured its request was received prior to the deadline of 2/20 for Committees to raise bills.
Ablechild was advised by the Public Health Committee that the appropriate committee for such legislative requests would be the Public Safety and Security Committee. Apparently there is some kind of legislative shuffle happening in Connecticut because the reason provided to Ablechild for rejecting the two legislative measures was because the legislation “should have been filed with the Public Health Committee.”
But that isn’t the only oddity. Ablechild was shocked to learn that, despite going to great lengths to be present for the public hearing on February 18th, its testimony was mysteriously missing from the committee’s website – not so much as a mention of Ablechild’s appearance before the committee. Upon inquiring about this “lost testimony,” Ablechild was told that, basically, accidents happen. What are the odds that Ablechild’s testimony for both legislative measures would go missing?
The bigger question, though, is what part of Ablechild’s legislative Amendment is not concerned with Public Safety? SB 98 would provide training to law enforcement as part of the “drug detection and gang identification process…”
The reason behind SB 98 is backwash from the tragedy at Sandy Hook. Everyone is concerned about safety in schools because of the deadly incident, but few realize that Nancy Lanza reported to the Yale Child Studies Center that Adam Lanza was experiencing an adverse reaction to a drug prescribed to him. Despite raising legitimate concerns, Yale did not provide Nancy Lanza with information about how to report the adverse event to the FDA.
The MedWatch System is set up by the FDA in order to allow consumers the opportunity to report adverse reactions to prescription drugs. Given that 70 million Americans currently are taking prescription mind-altering drugs (many of those live in Connecticut), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a staggering 27,000 unintentional overdose deaths are ascribed to prescription drugs, wouldn’t the committee take this information into consideration as a Public Safety issue?
The MedWatch System is about Public Safety. The reporting of adverse drug events plays a huge part in ensuring that the public is safe from drugs that may be harmful and this information can only be obtained if consumers are aware of the MedWatch System.
While Ablechild is shocked by the committee’s blatantly sloppy mishandling of its testimony, the larger issue is the committee’s unwillingness to consider legislation that actually may protect public safety, especially in light of the fact that there is no funding request associated with either piece of legislation.
Seems like a no-brainer. Training law enforcement about a federal drug reporting system that, if used, could help saves lives and at no cost to the state. Thanks to the short-sightedness of the committee, its inability to recognize what could have been a win-win for the state and consumers, this important legislation has been relegated to the trash bin.
Not surprisingly, though, the pharmaceutical-funded National Association of Mentally Ill (NAMI) did not experience the “accidental” loss of its testimony nor was it rejected for consideration. NAMI, and other like organizations who submitted testimony to the committee, are fighting for increased access to mental health (prescription mind-altering drugs) in an already over-prescribed market, while Ablechild is committed to providing informed consent and MedWatch would have been a step in the right direction of protecting parental informed consent.
While Ablechild was willing to work with other organizations to help ensure public safety, it appears that SB98 does nothing to ensure parents rights and, therefore, Ablechild is unable to support this legislation.