Sen. Edward Kennedy was a dear friend of Public Citizen and a unique person in the Congress whose history and leadership will never be forgotten. Few did as much to advance civil rights and social justice issues as Sen. Kennedy, who also was an early and longtime champion of health care for all. Over the years, he worked with Public Citizen on issues key to the public health and safety. He conveyed a message to our members at our 35th anniversary, calling Public Citizen “an effective voice protecting the fundamental rights of all Americans.” In fact,the most effective voice over the past four decades was Sen. Kennedy’s.
For decades, Sen. Kennedy played a pivotal role on issues important to consumers. He was a leader in advocating health care reform, strong and effective regulation of drugs and medical devices, and maintaining injured consumers’ access to the court system. Sen. Kennedy also succeeded in expanding the Freedom of Information Act, thereby ensuring the public had access to more government records. In each of these areas, his leadership was invaluable to helping Public Citizen achieve its goals.
Along with Public Citizen, he was an early proponent of curbing the influence of drug companies over doctors. Almost 20 years ago, in December 1990, when the topic was largely unheard of, Sen. Kennedy held hearings on the bribing of doctors by pharmaceutical companies. His early leadership raised public awareness about the issue and paved the way for state legislation designed to curb industry influence over doctors.
He was a champion for so many and will be greatly missed.