Approved by the FDA, they are refusing press requests to find out if the FDA knew of the reports, dating back to the mid-90s, that linked malignant tumors in mice and rats. Gee, I wonder why. In the meantime, while the Feds and VeriChip were essentially ignoring the cancer information, the chip received approval for implantation in humans. That’s just the beginning.
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved implanting microchips in humans, the manufacturer said it would save lives, letting doctors scan the tiny transponders to access patients’ medical records almost instantly. The FDA found “reasonable assurance” the device was safe, and a sub-agency even called it one of 2005’s top “innovative technologies.”
But neither the company nor the regulators publicly mentioned this: A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, stated that chip implants had “induced” malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats.
“The transponders were the cause of the tumors,” said Keith Johnson, a retired toxicologic pathologist, explaining in a phone interview the findings of a 1996 study he led at the Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Mich…
Did the agency know of the tumor findings before approving the chip implants? The FDA declined repeated AP requests to specify what studies it reviewed.
The FDA is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time of VeriChip’s approval, was headed by Tommy Thompson. Two weeks after the device’s approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.
Thompson, until recently a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, says he had no personal relationship with the company as the VeriChip was being evaluated, nor did he play any role in FDA’s approval process of the RFID tag.
“I didn’t even know VeriChip before I stepped down from the Department of Health and Human Services,” he said in a telephone interview.
Wired has coverage which details the calculated untruth of Thompson’s statement.
Thompson vigorously campaigned for electronic medical records and healthcare technology both as governor of Wisconsin and at HHS. While in President Bush’s Cabinet, he formed a “medical innovation” task force that worked to partner FDA with companies developing medical information technologies.
At a “Medical Innovation Summit” on Oct. 20, 2004, Lester Crawford, the FDA’s acting commissioner, thanked the secretary for getting the agency “deeply involved in the use of new information technology to help prevent medication error.” One notable example he cited: “the implantable chips and scanners of the VeriChip system our agency approved last week.”
Besides the apparent corruption oozing out of this story, I now have to decide if I want to have Sydney and Snoopy’s chips removed. If I knew of the cancer link at the time, I don’t know that I would have had them chipped in the first place.