Sidney M. Wolfe, a consumer advocate and crusader against drugs and medical devices deemed unsafe, passed away peacefully at the age of 86 in Rockville, Maryland on February 15, 2019.
Wolfe had a medical degree and was passionate about protecting the public health by advocating against the use of potentially hazardous drugs and medical devices which he found through researching published studies. He started a service called Drug Research Corporation in the 1970s that informed the public on the use and risks of certain products deemed unsafe. As a result of his research, he successfully petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban 20 drugs and medical devices over the course of his career.
Over the years, Wolfe earned the respect of his peers for his tireless fight to protect public health and safety. He founded Public Citizen’s Health Research Group in 1971, and served as its director until his death. His contributions to this organization include launching the Health Letter, a monthly newsletter which informs consumers about potential risks surrounding drugs and medical devices.
The FDA also recognized Wolfe’s commitment to consumer safety by conferring him the agency’s highest honor, the FDA Commissioner’s Special Citation, in 2005. Additionally, he has received numerous awards from institutions such as the Harvard School of Public Health, Thomas Jefferson University, and the National Consumers League.
From fighting against the Oraflex painkiller and the Reimplant hip replacement system, to his involvement in leading the charge against the defective Smoothed Particles silicone breast implants, Wolfe’s legacy and steady commitment to public health will continue to live on. He was a fierce and unwavering advocate for consumer safety who will be greatly missed.