by Jeff Sovern
On Tuesday, the Times reported here about a study that confirms what many consumer lawyers already know about the elderly. Here's the first paragraph of the article:
For the especially unscrupulous con artist, the elderly are a tempting target. Now researchers have confirmed in the lab what frauds already knew instinctively: as they grow older, even people who seem perfectly on top of things may have trouble making good decisions.
The Times also reported here on GAO reports that discuss just how depressingly far behind the FDA is in inspecting overseas plants that make medical devices, drugs, and food for the US. An excerpt:
The Food and Drug Administration is so understaffed that, at its current pace, the agency would need at least 27 years to inspect every foreign medical device plant that exports to the United States, 13 years to check every foreign drug plant and 1,900 years to examine every foreign food plant, according to government investigators.
Computer systems at the drug agency are so inadequate that it can only guess the number of the plants, and it cannot produce a list of those that have not been inspected. The situation is particularly dire in China, which has more drug and device plants than any other foreign nation but where F.D.A. inspections are few.
The rest of the article is not any more cheerful. But can we at least depend on toy manufacturers to protect our health? Well, maybe not. Federal law reportedly bars lead in paint on toys, but not in other toy parts. The Times reported yesterday, in an article titled "Lawmakers Say Mattel Broke Word on Lead," that Mattel has recalled a toy with lead in a plastic part in Illinois, which apparently limits the amount of lead in plastic, but not in the rest of the nation. The article states that Mattel's "recall page on its Web site does not include information about the toy."