A high-profile congressional hearing into the safety of antidepressant medicines was abruptly canceled on Sunday afternoon by a House panel whose chairman is weighing a top job at a trade group representing the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.
Rep. James C. Greenwood (R-Pa.) is reported to be considering an offer to become president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members include most of the pharmaceutical companies that were to send representatives to testify at the hearing.
In a statement -- an e-mail attachment titled "retirement.doc" -- the moderate Republican said he has been reviewing an opportunity and will shortly announce his decision. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) told reporters that Greenwood will be leaving Congress but did not say what his new job would be.
The outgoing president of the biotech trade organization, Carl B. Feldbaum, said the group has not talked with Greenwood about the antidepressant issue.
Patients rights advocates voiced outrage at the turn of events. "What this shows is that things are so corrupt," said Vera Hassner Sharav, a patient rights advocate, after learning that the hearing had been canceled. Sharav said that in calling a hearing into the issue, Greenwood had exploited the families harmed by the medicines. "We now suspect the whole investigation was done to up his price," she said.
Hm. Another odd coincidence. Right?