On Medical Devices, FTC Regulator is Claiming Policy Wisdom

We’ve been watching the hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on H.R. 1346, the Medical Device Safety Act.

The first witness was David Vladeck, listed and introduced as J.D, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center. He testified, vehemently, against federal preemption, criticizing the Supreme Court ruling in Riegel v. Medtronic.

Vladeck’s views don’t surprise us; he’s a hard-core advocate of expanded regulation, regards business as nemesis, and made a career out of suing people. Before coming to Georgetown, he was with Public Citizen Litigation Group for decades.

Thing is, Vladeck was announced on April 14 as the new director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Federal Trade Commission. (FTC news release, Washington Post article.)

Even if he hasn’t started work at the FTC yet [see UPDATE below], do we really want our regulators — and the FTC is a regulatory agency — commenting on policy matters? You have a regulator declaring he holds little respect for the Supreme Court’s opinion on preemption and that members of Congress who believe in FDA preemption are wrong and ill-informed. That’s an improper role for a regulator.

In addition, the FTC has a large regulatory portfolio involving health care competition. While not the regulatory agency in charge of medical devices, the FTC has dealt with the industry. Won’t Vladeck’s appearance and testimony give people in the health care industry grounds to suspect they won’t get a fair shake?

All in all, a strange and imprudent appearance before the committee.

UPDATE: According to the Federal Leadership Directory (the Yellow Book):

Director David C. Vladeck

Career Senior Executive Service (SES) Appointment

Note: David C. Vladeck has been appointed Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, with an effective date still to be announced. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

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