Contest Entries

Tainted Imports Set Off Warnings, Not FDA Action

Entrants: Justin Blum

Affiliation: Bloomberg News

Limited Report

Year: 2008

Place: Third Place

Provide a brief synopsis of the story or stories, including any significant findings.

The story described how the FDA ignored warning signs for years about contaminated drugs from overseas entering the United States. The story quoted former agency officials saying that recent cases of illnesses linked to contaminated medications shouldn't have come as a surprise. It also described internal reports that warned of contaminated drug imports, and quoted former agency commissioners explaining why they didn't act. The story held accountable a senior FDA official who told lawmakers that this year's contamination of the drug heparin was a "wake-up call."

Judges' comments: A thoroughly reported history of the FDA's inaction against the use of tainted imported ingredients to produce heparin. The reporter deftly uses documents and interviews with several former FDA officials to piece together a 20-year narrative of the agency's inability to respond to a looming safety threat.

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