New Blood-Pressure Guidelines Raise Concerns about Interest-Group Lobbying

On November 13, millions of Americans had high blood pressure for the first time. It wasn’t even Thanksgiving.

That day the American College of Cardiology (ACC), working with the American Heart Association (AHA), released new guidelines regarding what constitutes high blood pressure. Since 2003, a reading below 140/90 was considered normal. Now, any blood pressure over 120/90 is considered hypertension.

These changes mean nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure, a considerable increase from about 30 percent under the old guidelines. If hypertension rates before these changes were described as an epidemic and a silent killer, the new rates will likely replace the silence with alarm and calls to action.

The FDA Cannot Hire Staff with Starting Salaries of $160,000

Would a starting salary of just above $160,000 turn you off? Well, maybe if you had a scientific PhD and had to wait four months before the employer could decide whether to hire you or not, you would find a spot elsewhere.

This is the situation the Food and Drug Administration finds itself in, according to the Washington Post:

The Food and Drug Administration has more than 700 job vacancies in its division that approves new drugs, and top officials say the agency is struggling to hire and retain staff because pharmaceutical companies lure them away.

“They can pay them roughly twice as much as we can,” Janet Woodcock, who directs the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), said at a rare-diseases summit recently in Arlington, Va.

(Sidney Lupkin & Sarah Jane Tribble, “Despite ramped-up hiring, FDA continues to grapple with hundreds of vacancies,” Washington Post, November 1, 2016.)