Big Pharma and the FDA deeming regulations: A history of corruption

Even though the FDA deeming regulations were only just announced last May 5, 2016, they have been in the works for decades.  As far back as the 1990’s, Big Pharma companies were already well aware of electronic cigarettes and their potential health benefits.  Major players like GlaxoSmithKline, Squibb, and Johnson & Johnson determined very early in the game that vaping technology could easily become a cheaper and more efficient way of delivering prescription medications to the bloodstream.  And while these companies also foretold the current trends of e-cigs becoming popular among the quit-smoking crowd, Big Pharma had no idea just how popular they would become.

Nicotine gum came onto the scene as a nicotine replacement therapy in the mid-1980’s.  Ten years later, transdermal nicotine therapies, otherwise known as “the patch,” had hit the market.  And Big Pharma held all of the patents.  When President Bill Clinton took office in 1992 and began consistently and dramatically raising taxes on tobacco cigarettes, smoking suddenly became “uncool.”  As a result, sales of the patch, nicotine gum, and other stop smoking aids went through the roof, and Big Pharma was laughing all the way to the bank.

The Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation

During the Clinton years, the FDA took notice of the American Public’s changing opinion on smoking and decided to expand its authority into the tobacco industry.  But if they wanted to legally regulate tobacco, they would first have to classify nicotine as a drug.  So, the FDA did just that, which really angered one particular company named the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation (BWT). In 1998, BTW took the FDA to court…and won!  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the FDA did not have the authority to regulate the tobacco industry.

The Tobacco Control Act of 2009

In light of the devastating court loss, the FDA didn’t give up.  The FDA consistently fought to regain their stronghold on Big Tobacco.  By 2009, Obama signed the Tobacco Control Act into law, and the FDA once again was in charge of federal oversight of the tobacco industry.  However, it was also around this time that Mr. Obama was having a more difficult time getting Congress to approve another major piece legislation, a little thing we like to call Obamacare.


At first, the Obamacare legislation was written to target Big Pharma companies with harsh restrictions on prescription drug prices.  But this wasn’t going over too well with pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Squibb, and Johnson & Johnson.  With billions of dollars at their disposal and a team of federal, state, and local politicians bought-and-paid-for by Big Pharma campaign contributions, Obamacare stalled in Congress.  It the President wanted Obamacare to pass, then he would have to give Big Pharma something in exchange.

The FDA deeming regulations

That’s right.  Out there looming in the not-so-far distance was the newly passed Tobacco Control Act of 2009.  Obama had just given the FDA what the agency had always wanted – full regulation of the tobacco industry.  Now, he just had to find somebody to run the new branch of the FDA named the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP).  So, why not give it to Big Pharma?  Why not let the pharmaceutical industries run the new CPT in exchange for their political influence over Congress to pass Obamacare?

If Big Pharma could guarantee the passage of the President’s pet project, then Mr. Obama would lace the CPT with old employees of Big Pharma – who could then regulate the heck out of the electronic cigarette industry.  By doing so, Big Pharma could eliminate the competition, and “the patch” and Nicorette Gum could once again become King of the Nicotine Replacement Therapies.  This extra cash flow would more than make up for the paltry financial losses of ever-so-slightly federally regulated drug prices.

Mitch Zeller and Jack Henningfield

Now that the devious plan was in motion, all that the Obama-FDA-Big Pharma Coalition needed was a few good men to run the operation.  Enter Mitch Zeller, Obama’s first-ever Director of the Center for Tobacco Products.  Zeller used to work for Big Pharma’s GlaxoSmithKline as a political consultant and lobbyist.  He would be perfect.

Jack Henningfield would also be appointed to head another new agency called the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee.  Henningfield used to co-won the agency that previously employed Mitch Zeller.  Incidentally, Jack also happens to co-own a patent on a new nicotine-enhanced chewing gum that will soon be on the market.

Is there a secret conspiracy to eradicate the entire vaping industry simply for the personal financial gain of a few Big Pharma Top Dogs?  By connecting the dots and following the chain of events that has led to the newly announced FDA e-cig regulations, it may not be a “secret” conspiracy for much longer.

Article Credit: Matt Rowland

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