Public health officials and other medical professionals have helped untold millions over the years. But the hard truth is that some have hurt many.
This was a difficult lesson I learned many times when I was assigned to investigate FDA, CDC, NIH and pharmaceutical industry scandals at CBS News.
One of the most heartbreaking early stories I investigated in 2000 was the death of a baby who was given an experimental heartburn drug called Propulsid as part of a study. His death had been ruled a mysterious SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) death.
Little Gage Stevens’ parents didn’t know that the drug he took, Propulsid, had been linked to dozens of deaths, including at least one other baby, before Gage even got his first dose. Shortly after Gage died, Propulsid was pulled from the market — linked to more than 300 deaths.
My investigation revealed that the study consent form falsely stated Propulsid, made by Johnson and Johnson, was “approved by the FDA” for children. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration had repeatedly rejected it for pediatric use.