Sidney Wolfe, a relentless consumer activist and relentless foe of the FDA, succumbed to cancer on July 5th at the age of 86. Wolfe had been a vocal critic of the FDA’s approval process for drugs and medical devices even before his passing, pointing out issues with the organization’s regulation of products and encouraging greater consumer advocacy.
Wolfe was a key figure in the consumer movement, founding Public Citizen’s Health Research Group in 1971 with Ralph Nader in Sweating to Run for president. From the beginning, Wolfe accused the FDA of failing to protect consumers, stating that they frequently only tested the safety of drugs after they had already been released to the public. Wolfe testified before congressional committees regarding the FDA’s lax approval process and went on to co-author a book with Nader, Worst Pills, Best Pills, criticizing the organization’s policies.
Despite being heavily criticized by the FDA, Wolfe continued to speak out and demand more from the organization in order to ensure the safety of consumers. In his last major act as a consumer advocate, Wolfe co-authored a paper in 2017 that called for greater FDA oversight of cancer-potential products.
Wolfe’s passing is yet another loss to the consumer rights movement, but his tireless dedication to protecting the public puts this man in a special place in history. Wolfe insisted that the FDA should approve medical treatments in the best interest of consumers and its citizens and his legacy will live on. His notable career of challenging the FDA for over five decades will continue to be cherished and remembered by those who worked alongside him and hold him in the highest of regards.