SEN. METZENBAUM SEEKING JUSTICE DEPT. DOCUMENTS ON LILLY ORAFLEX
SEN. METZENBAUM SEEKING JUSTICE DEPT. DOCUMENTS ON LILLY ORAFLEX investigation the Ohio Democrat noted in a Sept. 4 press release. Metzenbaum said he was asking for a Senate Judiciary Cmte. hearing on the way Justice's Acting Asst. Attorney General Richard Willard handled the dept.'s probe of the Oraflex case, and added that he is "moving separately to obtain internal Justice Dept. documents regarding the Lilly case." In a same day letter, Metzenbaum asked Senate Judiciary Cmte. Chairman Thurmond (D-SC) to schedule new hearings on the nomination of Willard to become Asst. Attorney General in charge of the dept.'s Civil Division. Noting that during Willard's initial confirmation hearing he "raised a number of questions concerning Willard's conduct as Acting Asst. Attorney General," Metzenbaum said that he is "especially concerned with ]Willard's[ responsibilities in the area of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act." Metzenbaum referred to Justice's recent plea bargain agreement with Lilly and one of its former officers in connection with adverse reaction reporting for the drug Oraflex ("The Pink Sheet" Aug. 26, p. 4). The company pleaded guilty to technical misdemeanors and was fined, "despite the fact that Justice Department lawyers urged criminal prosecution of three Lilly executives," Metzenbaum said. The letter also noted that during Willard's confirmation hearing on July 24, Metzenbaum had raised concerns about the attorney's decision not to prosecute Syntex officials charged with distributing deficient infant formula. "Mr."Willard indicated that this decision came when he was new to the job and that pending cases would demonstrate his commitment to strong enforcement of our drug laws," the senator stated. "Because the assistant attorney general plays a critical role in protecting all Americans from unsafe food and drugs," Metzenbaum said, "I feel strongly that these issues should be fully pursued before a nominee is confirmed. I would therefore oppose committee consideration of Mr. Willard's nomination until a second hearing has been held."
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