A Question of Intent: A Great American Battle with a Deadly Industry

A Question of Intent: A Great American Battle with a Deadly Industry

A Question of Intent: A Great American Battle with a Deadly Industry

A Question of Intent: A Great American Battle with a Deadly Industry

Synopsis

The never before-revealed story of how the FDA took on tobacco, told by the ultimate insider: controversial former FDA commissioner David Kessler. A Question of Intentt follows Kessler's team of investigators as they race to find clues that will allow the FDA to assert jurisdiction over cigarettes, & the tobacco companies fight back with everything they have.

Excerpt

When I was appointed commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in October 1990, the newspapers said that I had been preparing for the job my whole life. There was some truth to that. I was trained both as a doctor and a lawyer, I had taught food and drug law, and I was running a teaching hospital in the Bronx. Reporters liked to add that I had also worked on Capitol Hill, though I had been only a part-time volunteer during my pediatric residency.

With encouragement from me, friends and colleagues began mentioning my name as a possible candidate to lead the FDA. My campaign for the job took a big step forward when I was summoned to see Louis Sullivan, President Bush's secretary of Health and Human Services, under whose authority the agency fell. Dr. Sullivan greeted me graciously, though he was always reserved and formal, and he escorted me into his spacious front office overlooking Independence Avenue. The dome of the Capitol dominated his view. The former president of Morehouse School of Medicine, Sullivan had come out of the same world of academic medicine as I had; there was every reason for me to feel at ease.

We walked together to his private dining room, where Sullivan asked, "What would you do with the agency?"

"Enforce the law," I said. It rang flat, even in my own ears. Sullivan did not react, but I felt a wave of panic, a catecholamine surge, wash over me. I had never experienced anything like it before. My back muscles went into spasm. I was afraid to pick up a fork, lest the secretary notice my shaking hands. I was the medical director of Albert Einstein Hospital in the Bronx, but here, in this setting, I was an unknown. Sullivan wanted to know what I would do if I had responsibility for an 8,000-person agency with a $600 million budget . . .

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