Sidney Wolfe, doctor, public health researcher, and longtime advocate for consumer rights, has passed away from natural causes at the age of 86.
Wolfe was a medical physician and a psychiatric researcher, but was best known for his relentless fight for consumer protection and safety in the consumer product and medical industries.
Throughout his career, Wolfe had a major impact on public policy, particularly in the area of health care. He served as editor of the influential Public Citizen Health Research Group Journal, which called out practices of unsafe medication. He was a major opponent of the prescription pharmaceutical industry and was instrumental in getting dozens of drugs pulled off the market for safety and efficacy issues. He also backed up the action with hearings called by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In addition, Wolfe advocated for more cautious food labeling. He frequently challenged companies for putting ingredients into products which were shown to be unhealthy for consumers. On top of this, Wolfe actively pushed for a nationalized health care system, and for bringing down the overhead costs of medical facilities.
Wole was a sharp critic of the FDA’s drug approval process, and frequently denounced companies for what he described as “unreasonable risk taking”. In 1977, he issued a report to Congress that called out the FDA’s lack of oversight on medical device testing.
He was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the Advisory Commission for Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry in 1997, and he served as chairman until 2002.
Wolfe is survived by his four children, as well as his wife of 54 years, Joyce Wolfe. He will be remembered as a fierce advocate and a champion of consumer safety. His groundbreaking research and unyielding dedication to his work was instrumental in making medicine and consumer products safer for the public.