A recent federal lawsuit was filed against the former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamberg, her husband, Peter Brown, and Johnson & Johnson alleging conspiracy, racketeering and colluding to conceal the dangers of the antibiotic Levaquin. Levaquin is made by Johnson & Johnson and many safety questions arose after its 1996 approval by the FDA, including the drug’s role in tendon ruptures (like its cousin Cipro), possible cell damage, links to neurodegenerative diseases likes Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s, and permanent peripheral nerve damage.
The suit was filed by attorney Larry Klayman, a former federal prosecutor, who claims the parties concealed the drug’s dangers for financial gain.
Former FDA Commissioner Hamberg’s husband, Peter Brown, is an executive in the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, which held hundreds of millions of dollars of Johnson & Johnson stock. The suit charged as follows:
While Defendant Hamberg was FDA Commissioner, her husband, Defendant Brown’s annual income, not coincidentally, increased from a reported $10,000,000.00 in 2008 to an estimated $125,000,000.00 in 2011 and an estimated $90,000,000.00 in 2012, due in whole or in part to Defendants’ racketeering conspiracy to withhold information about the devastating, life threatening, and deadly effects of Levaquin.
Only after Hamberg left the FDA did the agency put clear warnings on Levaquin’s label says the Complaint. This is not the first time there have been questions about the relationship between the FDA’s drug decisions and Hamberg’s financial interest. In 2013, Hamberg verbally supported approval of the extreme opioid Zohydro despite its rejection by an FDA advisory board. It is very rare indeed that the FDA does not accept and follow an advisory board’s decision. Subsequently, 28 state Attorneys General, reeling under their state’s opioid epidemics, urged the FDA to reverse the Zohydro decision. Renaissance Technology, the hedge fund, also held significant stock in Alkermes, the maker of Zohydro, at the time, giving the appearance of a financial conflict of interest. Is it not surprising that both the FDA and mainstream media have become industry captives failing to perform their sworn duties of protecting and informing the public because of their lucrative partnerships with industry?