Secretary of Health and Human Services Richard S. Schweiker said yesterday that the World Health Organization's new code to curb promotion of infant formula in developing nations cannot be enforced in the United States because it "runs contrary to the Constitution on the First Amendment" and would violate the antitrust laws.
Asked at a breakfast interview whether the United States will vote for the new code in the WHO, Schweiker said, "How can you vote for a code that's against our own laws?"
Schweiker said, "I do believe in breast-feeding" rather than the use of infant formula in countries where, for a variety of reasons, breast-feeding is a better guarantor of health.
But he said codes to govern sales of a variety of products, such as chemicals and pharmaceuticals as well as infant formula, are coming up before the WHO. "The administration honestly doesn't believe the WHO should be an international Federal Trade Commission," Schweiker declared.
Schweiker also said:
Dr. C. Everett Koop, whose conservative views on abortion and related matters have made him controversial, is still his choice to be surgeon general of the United States. But he said that if Koop's nomination doesn't get through Congress in another month or two, someone else probably will be chosen and Koop will remain deputy assistant secretary of HHS for health, a spot that doesn't require confirmation.
In any event, Dr. N. Edward Brandt Jr., named as assistant secretary for health, is "the number one person for health" and would be Koop's boss no matter what.
He basically supports contraception and family planning and believes in the government's teen-age pregnancy program but doesn't believe the latter should be an abortion advocacy program. He said the program should let people "make their own decisions" after learning the options.
He has just named a task force to study a long-term proposal to restructure the health industry into a more competitive system with the aim oof bringing down costs; he wouldn't expect any legislative proposals to be ready until later in the year.
"No cuts have been made" in the roughly $35 million being spent by the National Institutes of Health for research on smoking and health. A small $3 million office on smoking and health was initially "wiped out" by federal budget director David Stockman but "I appealed and got about half the money back."