WirePOLITICS: Fitzpatrick on terrorism financing, Essure, naloxone

Tom Waring, the Wire

U.S. Rep Mike Fitzpatrick and Democratic Rep. Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts held a hearing of the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing.

Fitzpatrick is chairman of the task force. The hearing focused the United States’ role in helping developing nation’s address terror financing.

The international community has sought to strengthen the financial, law enforcement and legal systems of developing countries in order to better prevent the financing of terrorism and other illicit financial flows. The hearing examined the extent to which technical assistance is coordinated; successes and failures of the current assistance-delivery regime; and ways to improve the provision of such assistance.

“Throughout the lifetime of this Task Force, one fact has remained consistent: combatting terror finance is and must continue to be an international effort,” said Fitzpatrick. “The countries of today’s world are more interconnected than ever been before — especially when focusing on the financial system and the global trade system. With this much integration, the weakest link in the system becomes the target for exploitation by criminal organizations and terrorist groups. We must identify how the international community is addressing this issue, how efficient the U.S. is when delivering technical assistance to developing nations and how coordination between U.S. agencies and international partners can be improved.”

Fitzpatrick released a statement regarding the announcement of the Food and Drug Administration’s five-month review of the permanent sterilization device Essure.

Fitzpatrick has been calling for removal of Essure from the market — introducing the E-Free Act in November 2015. Ahead of the FDA’s report, Fitzpatrick wrote to the agency urging them to consider possible inconsistencies in the number of fetal deaths caused by the device and also legal complaints alleging illegal kickbacks.

More than 25,000 women reported symptoms including extreme pelvic and abdominal pain, migraines, loss of teeth and hair, and the coil cutting into the uterus and other organs in the abdominal cavity. Ten-thousand have filed formal complaints with the FDA.

“It’s unbelievable that it took the FDA since September to make just two recommendations with no enforcement measures and ask the manufacturer to perform another study while leaving Essure on the market. Frankly, I’d contend that the 25,000 women harmed by Essure are the postmarket study that FDA is ordering. It’s been done. The evidence is all there: Tens of thousands of injured women and hundreds of fetal deaths. As my constituent, Dr. Amy Reed, a victim of unsafe devices herself, testified at the FDA in September, ‘[w]e don’t need to hurt any more women.’ If the FDA is going to order another study, then at minimum they should take Essure off the market during that time. A 60-day comment period and another study while this device remains on that market only guarantees more women harmed.

“Because the FDA is failing to act, I believe Congress must. That’s why, moving forward, I will advocate for a number of legislative actions to address this issue, includingc ontinuing my call for the House and Senate to take up and pass the E-Free Act to revoke the FDA approval of Essure; working to block government agencies — such as the DOD and VA — from purchasing this unsafe device; and introducing new legislation to eliminate the blanket civil liability protections that device manufacturers like Bayer currently receive for a non-life-saving device like Essure because those harmed deserve a voice in court. Simply put, it’s time for Congress and the FDA to get serious about reforming medical device safety laws.”

Fitzpatrick is one of the most bipartisan lawmakers in Congress, according to a new, non-partisan ranking released last week.

Fitzpatrick is ranked the 10th most bipartisan member of the House of Representatives (out of 435 members) in the Bipartisan Index unveiled by The Lugar Center, a Washington policy organization headed by former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

“The key to getting things done in Congress is being willing to work toward common goals — things like creating good-paying jobs, strengthening our infrastructure or addressing our national debt — regardless of where they come from,” Fitzpatrick said. “While I am a proud Republican, I’ve worked in Washington under the belief that good ideas aren’t restricted to one party.”

Members were scored based on how often bills they introduced were co-sponsored by members of the other party, and how often they joined bills sponsored from across the aisle. The index scores only bills that have the force of law, not commemorative bills or non-binding resolutions. Only 36 Senators and 144 House members received positive bipartisan scores in the index.

A positive score indicates a lawmaker has scored better than the average bipartisan performance of Congress over the past 20 years. Scores above .5 are very good and scores above 1.0 are outstanding. Fitzpatrick scored 1.25.

Fitzpatrick is a member of the bipartisan group No Labels.

Fitzpatrick joined a group of members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in urging Gov. Tom Wolf to issue state guidelines for prescribing naloxone, the antidote to acute opioid toxicity, or overdose.

Pennsylvania has seen a dramatic increase in drug overdoses, many involving heroin or prescription opiates.

The lawmakers argue that public guidelines for co-prescribing naloxone, along with a patient’s opioid medication, will help alleviate any stigma associated with making the drug available.

The letter comes as the Wolf administration reported success in reversing opioid overdoses since State Police were authorized to carry naloxone and administer the antidote in the field. In addition, the Pennsylvania Physician General has signed a statewide prescription to make naloxone more widely available without it being prescribed by a doctor. Naloxone has been used safely for more than 40 years, has no potential for abuse and can be administered by people without medical training. Nevertheless, there remains some stigma about the drug, which may cause many addicts to shy away from seeking it out.

“As such, we urge you to take the same action which numerous states, as well as the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, already have and issue guidelines for co-prescribing naloxone along with a patient’s prescription of opioid medications,” the letter reads, in part. “Having the proper tools in place for those on long-term opioid therapy, such as a naloxone auto-injector, can save countless lives. We recognize that there may be considerable stigma for both a prescribing physician and a patient, and believe that the proper guidelines and education will help increase access to this life-saving drug.”

Joining Fitzpatrick on the letter were Reps. Bill Shuster, Matt Cartwright, Lou Barletta, Mike Kelly, Keith Rothfus and Glenn Thompson.

Fitzpatrick joined dozens of members of the House of Representatives in writing to Secretary of State John Kerry concerning the United States’ payment of $1.7 billion to Iran.

“As this payment was announced on the same day, January 17, 2016, when Iran released five innocent Americans in exchange for pardoning or dropping charges against 21 Iranians implicated in serious criminal activity, we are concerned that this may only further incentivize Iran’s malicious behavior,” the members wrote. “Indeed, a General in Iran’s radical Basij militia claimed that “taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies.” While all Americans are overjoyed that our fellow citizens are home with their families, this payment of well over a billion dollars to a rogue regime will certainly encourage radicals in Tehran and elsewhere to take more Americans hostage.”

Fitzpatrick is the chairman of the bipartisan Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing.