Republican Congressman Responds To Meningitis Outbreak: ‘I Don’t Think You Need More’ Regulation

Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH)

CONWAY, New Hampshire — A New England congressman from nearby the source of the ongoing meningitis outbreak dismissed calls for more regulation on the industry at a debate Thursday.

Freshman Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) was asked during a forum in northern New Hampshire whether the meningitis outbreaks demonstrates that the pharmaceutical industry actually needs more regulation to prevent similar problems in the future. “If your question is do you need more regulation, I don’t think you need more,” Guinta said.

MODERATOR: Number two, when you look at the kind of disastrous results that come from the pharmaceutical industry’s compounding organization that created this meningitis problem across America, and those are very unregulated operations, doesn’t America actually need more regulation to protect us from bad actors, as you pointed out?

GUINTA: If your question is do you need more regulation, I don’t think you need more. What you need is the existing regulatory agencies to actually do their jobs properly. We know what the basic rules are, what the basic laws are. They need to be utilized in such a way where the bad actors are identified.

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As of publication time, 23 people have died from the outbreak and 14,000 Americans were exposed to tainted steroid injections from a pharmaceutical company in Framingham, Massachusetts, less than 50 miles from Guinta’s district.

Despite the freshman congressman’s opposition, this meningitis episode highlights the need for stronger FDA regulations to prevent a repeat in the future. Because of the particular nature by which the steroid injections were created — a practice called compounding — the FDA lacks authority to oversee the process and ensure safety. Democratic lawmakers are pushing to strengthen the FDA’s oversight capacity, but congressmen like Guinta are signalling that such efforts could be blocked.

Still, Guinta is not entirely alone in his refusal to call for new regulations on the pharmaceutical industry. Earlier this month, Fox News said the outbreak actually demonstrates the need for less government regulation.