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“FDA Foe Sidney Wolfe Dies at 86 – A Tribute to an Unrelenting Consumer Activist

Sidney Wolfe, a relentless consumer activist and one-time FDA nemesis, has passed away at 86. Wolfe was a physician and a public health advocate who dedicated his life to protecting the safety and well-being of the American public. He was an uncompromising champion of consumer rights, most famous for his battles against the powerful Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Wolfe was born in 1932 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University before attending medical school. Following his graduation from Tufts University School of Medicine, he then completed a residency at the National Institutes of Health and a fellowship in allergy and clinical immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He shot onto the national scene in 1970 when he testified before Congress about how the FDA had failed to protect the public in regulating drugs. Wolfe subsequently founded the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, an organization dedicated to providing independent research and advocacy on consumer safety issues. Wolfe was an outspoken voice in uncovering and addressing pharmaceutical industry wrongdoing, drug safety problems, and FDA inaction. He authored over 200 reports on consumer health matters and served on panels for numerous organizations around the world. In his decades-long fight for consumers, he developed a strong reputation as a formidable opponent of the FDA, and his words had an undeniable impact on the agency. While Wolfe and the FDA clashed many times over the years, his efforts to keep unsafe drugs off the market were eventually hailed as essential reformations of the drug approval process. At the time of his passing, Wolfe’s legacy was strong, and the Health Research Group was still hard at work, continuing Wolfe’s mission to ensure that medical treatments are safe and affordable. Sidney Wolfe’s continuous struggle for consumer safety was an inspiration to many and his death will be felt deeply by those who seek similar reformations in the FDA and in public health. He will be remembered as an extraordinary consumer activist who stood up for the rights of all Americans.