First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990, Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has earned a reputation over her three decades of legislative service as a “liberal firebrand,” according to an August 2019 Hartford Courant headline.
DeLauro, a 76-year-old grandmother who followed her parents’ footsteps into public service, represents Connecticut’s 3rd Congressional District, spanning the south-central portion of the state and including portions of New Haven, Fairfield and Middlesex counties. DeLauro also ran on the Working Families Party ballot through a process known as cross-filing, in which a candidate can be affiliated with more than one party in an election.
DeLauro is Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee and monitors food and drug safety by serving on the subcommittee for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. DeLauro co-sponsored the 2017 Medical Device Safety Act, intended to make it considerably easier for injured patients to sue Class III device manufacturers. She reintroduced the bill in 2019 along with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). (According to the FDA, Class III medical devices, the agency’s most stringently regulated designation, are those which “Usually sustain or support life, are implanted, or present potential unreasonable risk of illness or injury.”)
According to the Courant, DeLauro has championed equal pay for women, “took on” the agriculture industry, and has fought trade deals in defense of ordinary workers. Her Congressional website describes giving “working families” an equal chance at success by strengthening the economy and creating “good middle class” jobs as her core focus. Other legislative interests include affordable healthcare and higher education and ensuring the wellbeing of veterans and their families.
Prior to her congressional career, DeLauro served as the first executive director of EMILY’s List, a national organization dedicated to the advancement of pro-choice Democratic women in legislatures and executive governmental seats.
In DeLauro’s Own Words
Here are five statements we selected by DeLauro on patient safety:
1. Reintroducing the “Recall Unsafe Drugs Act” (H.R. 5578) and Reiterating Call for Ban on Ranitidine (Zantac) Sales (News Conference) 1/10/20
“The FDA’s mission is to protect public health by assuring drugs, medical devices, and our nation’s food supply are safe. Yet, every day, drugs and homeopathic products with significant evidence of safety concerns remain available to consumers across the country. That is unacceptable. The Recall Unsafe Drugs Act would enable the FDA to step in and issue a mandatory recall of products that have been found to cause serious health consequences or death. … This problem extends to popular drugs like Zantac.”
2. Calling for a Ban on Ranitidine (Zantac) Sales to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (Letter) 12/18/19
“It is my understanding that ranitidine’s carcinogenicity has not been fully vetted by the FDA. Valisure’s data (an analytical pharmacy based in DeLauro’s district), in combination with four decades of scientific research, strongly suggests that ranitidine is a fundamentally unstable molecule and all products containing this drug have a risk of cancer.” …
“It is incomprehensible that FDA is fully aware of this fact, yet, it continues to allow this drug to remain on the shelves. FDA’s failure to stop companies from selling ranitidine makes the United States government complicit in exposing infants and adults to the risk of cancer.”
3. Regarding Reintroduction of Medical Device Safety Act H.R. 2669 (Press Release) 5/10/19
“The United States has a systemic problem with medical device oversight, and the FDA is not living up to its mission as a regulatory agency. Faulty medical devices have had tragic and life-changing effects on the lives of people across the country. It is heartbreaking, and we have a moral obligation to right these wrongs. That is why Congress should step up and pass the Medical Device Safety Act to give patients the legal resources they deserve.”
4. Urging Congress to Pass the Medical Device Safety Act H.R. 2164 (Press Release) 9/26/17
“Instead of serving as a steward for public safety, the FDA has put its stamp of approval on these potentially unsafe devices, with manufacturers’ bearing no legal risk when things go wrong. Even after the FDA knows that these devices put people at risk, it simply will not take them off the market. That is why Congress must immediately pass the Medical Device Safety Act, to arm American families with the necessary tools to hold these companies accountable once and for all. I will not let up in the fight — alongside my colleagues and consumer advocates — to get this life-saving legislation signed into law.”
5. Regarding Introduction of Medical Device Safety Measures (Press Release) 5/5/17
“The U.S. has a systemic problem with medical device oversight and unfortunately the Food and Drug Administration is not doing its job as a regulatory agency. Faulty medical devices, such as St. Jude defibrillators, Essure contraception, and power morcellators have had tragic and life-changing effects on the lives of American families across the country. Congress should step up and pass both the Medical Device Safety Act and Medical Device Guardians Act to give patients more resources needed to ensure their health and safety.”
By Carah Wertheimer
Carah Wertheimer is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. Her areas of specialization include food, health, environment, social justice and community reporting. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, The Denver Post, The Daily Beast, the Boulder Daily Camera, Boulder Weekly and other publications.