Federal agencies regulating the health and food industries are embarking on sweeping programs to strengthen competition, reduce costs, prevent product-caused health hazards and enhance consumer protection, according to the heads of two of those agencies.
Federal Trade Commission chairman Michael Pertschuk and Food and Drug Administration commissioner Donald Kennedy, in separate speeches before the 10th annual Consumer Assembly here yesterday, outlined their respective actions aimed at improving the plight of the consumer.
Sponsored by the Consumer Federation of America, the assembly brought together more than 700 persons from around the country to discuss "The Avoidable Costs of Health Care and Food."
In his luncheon address, Pertschuk outlined 44 FTC actions "in process or planned in pursuit" of consumer-oriented goals.
Pertschuk pointed to a nationwide investigation to identify instances of boycotts and other discrimination against Health Maintenance Organization Physicians, cases against major food manufacturers and retailers like Sunkist Growers (which is charged with alleged monopolization of the Western citrus fruit industry) and deceptive advertising) and others.
Pertschuk described food and health care delivery in the U.S. as "a marketing system run amok, a system in which neither incentives nor rewards bear any rational relationship to society's needs, a system which most rewards the sellers of the least bounty of malnutrition, a system which rewards the delivery of health care services - whether or not they are needed - but provides little or no rewards for the preventor of disease."
Pertschuk said in an interview before the speech that the address was "sort of a call for action and report of what we have already done."