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As many of us have heard, tainted wipes made their way into hospitals and homes and have been linked to serious side effects including infections and death. Recently, two Senators voiced their concerns over the FDA’s response to this investigation. The Senators, Michael F. Bennet of Colorado and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee sent a letter to the FDA asking for an explanation of the handling of this investigation. This letter may have been spurred by reports that the FDA knew about contamination problems at these plants in approximately 2009 but failed to take appropriate action. The FDA previously asked H&P Industries and the Triad Group to voluntarily shut down production but they failed to do so until April 4, 2011 when U.S. Marshal’s arrived on the scene.

According to the manufacturers, the closure was voluntary. However, it seems quite suspicious that the arrival of the U.S. Marshals had no bearing on the decision to voluntarily close their doors on the same exact day. The FDA has the ability to seize products that they feel may harm the public health and it appears that they undertook to do just that. It is unclear if the Senators involvement ultimately prompted this move or not. Regardless, the wipe manufacturer has finally closed its doors. Michael F. Bennet, the Senator from Colorado, stated on Monday, “Today’s events are a clear sign that the supply chain system for drugs and medical devices is broken…I will continue to fight for stronger oversight for industry, robust quality standards for manufacturers, and greater accountability from the FDA.”

It is a shame that it takes a situation like this, where a child died and others were threatened with serious illness, to awaken people to the flaws that are present in our current system. Hopefully, these Senators and others will continue to require, if not demand, increased oversight and accountability.

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