Monday, August 31, 2009

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has a Secret: A Mercury Amalgam Update from Charles G Brown,

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
-- Mahatma Gandhi

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has a secret

I commend to you the article by Ellen Brown (no relation) in the Huffington Post. “The Mercury Mischief: As Obama Warns of Hazards, The FDA Approves Mercury Dental Fillings,”

Ellen Brown astutely notes that the pro-mercury amalgam decision by Margaret Hamburg and Joshua Sharfstein is an outright repudiation of the Obama-Biden campaign platform against the healthcare threat mercury. President Obama made clear he wants a phase-out of mercury products, while two of his appointees, Hamburg and Sharfstein, are sabotaging the President’s platform. Author Brown concludes, FDA’s mercury amalgam rule is “based more on politics than science.”

FDA Commissioner Hamburg -- who received a million dollars for the light work of being a director of the dental products colossus Henry Schein and who was trading in Schein stock options the very month the rule issued -- has a secret. She is hoping against hope that you never find it out.

During her confirmation, Senator Mike Enzi asked her two questions about the amalgam rule. She did not disclose her egregious conflict of interest to the Wyoming Senator, and instead made clear she would be working on the rule.

After she became Commissioner in May, and before the rule issued, I wrote Margaret Hamburg three letters about her conflict of interest -- on June 9, July 1, and July 8. She waited until two weeks after my third letter -- July 24, with the rule deadline just four days away, to claim she was recused. Correspondence: and

Hamburg’s secret: the date she recused herself.
• Was it before or after she cashed Schein stock options on July 14?
• Was it before or after the decision to block disclosure of the mercury?
• Was it before or after the decision to deny protection to children and unborn children?

Other regulators willingly disclose the date and reasons for a recusal. Having so much to hide, Hamburg stonewalls.

Unless undone, this rule will do horrific damage to the American people -- and to the people of the world, because FDA remains the role model for other nations. For Henry Schein Inc., the rule is a bonanza: a $2/share jump in price the week the rule issues, and a big thank you for Schein’s CEO to Hamburg announced at a stock pitching meeting the morning after the rule is published. Thus, we filed a complaint with the Inspector General,

It may be Dr. Hamburg felt that, amidst the hubbub in Washington these days, she could wheel and deal in her Schein stock options while presiding over the mercury fillings rule -- and no one would notice.

Someone noticed.

Now on the defensive, Margaret Hamburg issued a written statement a week or so ago claiming (1) she sold all her stock before becoming Commissioner and (2) her stock options she kept after becoming Commissioner had no value. The second statement is deceptive. The first statement is false, but Hamburg has not issued a printed retraction or an apology.

Maybe you can have more success than I have had in finding out Hamburg’s secret. The corporate bigwigs at Henry Schein have her contact information; why shouldn’t you? Would you call Dr. Hamburg, at 301.796-5000, or write Dr. Hamburg, at

For writing, do it anytime. For phoning, let’s again do the time zone divisions, if it fits your schedule:
--- North Americans in Pacific time zone (+ HI + AK), phone on Monday.
--- North Americans in Mountain time zone (plus our friends in Europe, Africa, Asia, & Australia), phone Dr. Hamburg on Tuesday.
--- Central time zone (plus our South American & Central American friends), on Wednesday.
--- Eastern and Atlantic time zones, phone on Thursday.
--- Rain make-up day (a baseball joke), Friday.

Ask Commissioner Hamburg -- or her staff, or on voice mail -- two questions:
1. On what date, Dr. Hamburg, did you recuse yourself from the FDA rule-making?
2. Did you own Schein stock or stock options when you took office as Commissioner of FDA?

They will tell you, I’m sure: She isn’t involved in the amalgam rule.
Your response: That is not my question. My questions are when did she recuse herself, and did she own Schein stock or stock options when becoming Commissioner. Leave your phone number & ask her to call you.

30 August 2009

P.S. Thank you for calling Dr. Sharfstein’s office last week! Let’s keep the heat up.

Charles G. Brown, National Counsel
Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210, Washington, DC 20002
Ph. 202.544-6333; fax 202.544-6331,
Working for Mercury-Free Dentistry

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