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By Paul Raeburn, FairWarning 

Quentin Lueninghoener/ FairWarning

On Oct. 26, 2005, Alfred Caronia, a sales consultant for a little-known pharmaceutical company based in California, met with a doctor to discuss promotion of one of the firm’s  drugs.

The drug, a depressant called Xyrem, had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat only certain patients with the sleep disorder narcolepsy. But Caronia maintained, in a conversation with a doctor that was recorded by federal investigators, that the drug could be used to treat an array of other sleep and muscle ailments.

By Myron Levin, FairWarning 

Kool, introduced in the 1930s by Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., was one of the early menthol brands, and until the 1950s the most popular. This 1937 ad was one of many that promoted Kool as soothing to the throat. (Cigarette ads courtesy of the Stanford University collection)

Kool, introduced in the 1930s by Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., was one of the early menthol brands, and until the 1950s the most popular. This 1937 ad was one of many that promoted Kool as soothing to the throat. (Cigarette ads courtesy of the Stanford University collection)

Lorillard Tobacco donated nearly four times as much to Republican candidates as to Democrats in the 2014 congressional elections. No surprise there — most businesses count on Republicans to hold the line on regulations and taxes.

But Lorillard made a striking exception for one set of Democrats: African Americans.

 By Rick Schmitt, FairWarning 

Overwhelmed by a rising tide of imported foods, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is able to inspect a tiny fraction of shipments due to budget constraints.

Overwhelmed by a rising tide of imported foods, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is able to inspect a tiny fraction of shipments due to budget constraints.

In April 2012, a team of inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigated a seafood company in southern India that had been exporting tons of frozen yellow fin tuna to the United States. What they found was not appetizing: water tanks rife with microbiological contamination, rusty carving knives, peeling paint above the work area, unsanitary bathrooms and an ice machine covered with insects and “apparent bird feces,” according to the report.

The FDA issued an “import alert” that barred Moon Fishery India Pvt. Ltd. from shipping fish to the United States. But the damage to public health had been done. By the time FDA got around to inspecting the plant, a salmonella outbreak was erupting around the country. Ultimately, 425 people in 28 states and the District of Columbia were sickened, with victims ranging from babies to octogenarians. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 55 people were hospitalized.