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New Food and Drug Administration head says ‘Misinformation is now our leading cause of death’

Newly confirmed Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf says “the issue that keeps him up at night… is the proliferation of false and misleading health information, particularly online — and the distrust in institutions, data, and expertise that it has wrought.”

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D., speaks with an attendee at the event. (AHCJ photo by Paola Rodriguez)

So reports Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico for the Association of Health Care Journalists, from an interview AHCJ patient-safety team leader Kerry Dooley Young conducted with Califf on Friday in Austin at Health Journalism 2022, AHCJ’s annual conference.

“I believe that misinformation is now our leading cause of death,” Califf said, citing resistance to COVID-19 vaccination, the number of people taking the anti-parasite drug Ivermectin, and increasing use of electronic cigarettes.

“Historically, the FDA has been relatively quiet and puts out definitive information through guidance or labels or regulatory actions … that would be transmitted to consumers and patients through trusted intermediaries,” he said. “But the world has changed at this point.”

The shift has fueled the drop in Americans’ life expectancy compared to other wealthy nations, Califf said, and he “urged reporters to avoid clickbait, lean into fact-checking, make sure the headline matches the copy, and take other steps to responsibly convey news about COVID-19 and other pressing health concerns,” Ollstein reports.

Califf said, “People are distracted and misled by the medical information Tower of Babel, but journalists like yourselves play an important role here and your work has a tremendous impact on public trust.”

Kentucky Health News

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  1. Kerry Kelly says:

    Bowtie wearing liar. How’s the data for Remdesivir….the hospital protocol medicine that is killing people.

  2. LiveFreeOrDie says:

    “The shift has fueled the drop in Americans’ life expectancy compared to other wealthy nations”

    Q.) What drop?

    A.) The narrowly defined drop in life-expectancy from 2019 to 2020, where the CDC says US life-expectancy was down 1.8 years..

    Q.) Compared to which other wealthy nations?

    A.) “Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, France, Belgium, Austria, United Kingdom, & Germany—”

    —where life-expectancy only dropped 0.5 years compared to 1.8 years in the US.

    Q.) Is comparing these “other wealthy nations” to the US a disingenuous cherry-picked joke?

    A.) Yes. Comparing nations with largely homogenous populations that are a fraction of the US population is ridiculous; and attributing the 1.3 year life-expectancy gap— in this cherry picked timeframe between the US and these cherry picked “other wealthy nations” — to “health misinformation” instead of to the rampant rise of inner city violent crime and the opioid-epidemic fentanyl OD’s —is disgusting.

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