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It was a financial investment in a tobacco company that helped lead to the downfall of Brenda Fitzgerald, who until Wednesday was the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For many in the public health community, the notion that the head of the CDC held shares of a company in an industry that has been so anathema to the agency’s mission was shocking.


But Fitzgerald also purchased shares in pharma giants Merck and Bayer after taking over the CDC — an apparent conflict of interest that also confounded government ethics experts.

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  • Sadly, not uncommon. Obama appointed FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg still had stock options from her board days at Henry Schein – a dental products distributor – when she took down an FDA website warning about mercury health impacts from dental amalgam – and only recused herself at the last minute before its most curious classification, requiring no warnings to patients, but warnings from manufacturers to dentists. So there is no recourse for those who are harmed by it. People with a handful of fairly common gene types are more susceptible to harm, and it is being banned and restricted in a growing number of other nations. Hamburg was thanked profusely in a letter by Henry Schein. If ethicists were baffled, we never heard about it in the media. Which did not report it in the first place. Also curious.

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