From Pew Prospectus 2010
Americans should not have to worry about hidden dangers in the products they use every day—in the medicines they take, the food they eat or the financial and consumer items they rely on.
The Pew Health Group implements Pew founder Joseph N. Pew Jr.’s vision of telling the truth and trusting the people by shining a light on potential and actual hazards in these products while advocating for policies and practices that reduce unacceptable risks to the health and well-being of the American public.
For instance, credit cards can be an effective means to manage cash flows or finance important purchases, but they also pose dangers. Credit card users can fall prey to lenders who modify agreements and create extra charges, which can leave individuals and families with long-term financial challenges.
Much anecdotal evidence about lender abuse has emerged in recent years. In partnership with the Sandler Foundation, the Pew Health Group conducted a quantitative examination into consumer use of credit cards, studying industry products, practices and revenues. We found that a full 100 percent of the almost 400 credit cards offered online by the leading card issuers included methods defined by the Federal Reserve Board as “unfair or deceptive.”
Drawing from comprehensive research, Pew staff established the Pew Safe Credit Card Standards and clear guidelines to protect cardholders. Then the team worked diligently to see credit card reforms put into law by sharing our findings with legislative staff on Capitol Hill.
Our efforts contributed to significant reform that simplifies pricing and allows people to make better- informed decisions. In the end, many of the Pew standards became key elements of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, which President Obama signed last May. As the government implements the act, our financial security team continues to advocate for strict adherence to the legislation and transparency in credit card practices.
The Pew Health Group has applied this same winning combination—rigorous research followed by diligent advocacy when the facts are clear—to address concerns in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
The public should not fear that the food they eat might send them or a loved one to the hospital, yet our nation relies on food safety laws put into place by President Theodore Roosevelt over 100 years ago. Contamination in foods such as cookie dough, peanut butter and spinach has resulted in food-borne illnesses across the nation. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the nation has 76 million food-related illnesses and 5,000 deaths annually.
Yet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have the power to recall contaminated foods or require companies to regularly test their food and report any contamination to the agency, and it inspects food-producing factories an average of only once per decade.
The Pew Health Group has been striving over the past two years to modernize the woefully outdated food safety statute. We lead the Make Our Food Safe coalition, which includes consumer and public health groups and organizations representing victims of food-borne illness. Its efforts have greatly increased awareness of food-borne contamination issues across the nation and in Congress, resulting in successful reform measures in both the House and the Senate.
We are also addressing the overuse of antibiotics, particularly in the production of meat on industrial farms. Drugs are given to healthy animals to promote weight gain and compensate for overcrowded, unsanitary conditions—a dangerous practice that reduces the effectiveness of these life-saving drugs and contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Indeed, each year, some two million Americans acquire bacterial infections, and 90,000 die as a result; about 70 percent of the infections are associated with bacterial pathogens resistant to at least one drug.
In a joint initiative with the Pew Environment Group, the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming is fighting to end the injudicious use of antibiotics.
Just as we believe that antibiotic use should be based on sound science and informed policy, so the Pew Health Group aims to ensure that all pharmaceuticals—an essential part of modern daily life—are effective and reliable. We created the Pew Prescription Project to press for changes that will increase evidence-based prescribing and assure that pharmaceuticals are approved, manufactured and marketed in the safest way possible. The nation needs improved transparency in the marketing of drugs and medical devices and better oversight of the way drugs are made and distributed.
The Pew Health Group is also committed to basic science through the Pew Scholars in Biomedical Sciences program, which, over the past 25 years, has supported more than 600 innovative biomedical researchers early in their careers. Alumni have risen to senior leadership roles in top research institutions and won many honors, including three Nobel Prizes. We are dedicated both to furthering advances that may help produce new therapies and diagnostic procedures and to nonpartisan policy analysis and advocacy as we promote a safer, healthier nation.
Shelley A. Hearne
Managing Director, Health and Human Services Policy
Read more about Pew's work in the Pew Prospectus 2010 (PDF).
- Date added:
- Mar 22, 2010
On May 9, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced that 27 of the nation’s top biomedical researchers—including seven Pew scholars—will become HHMI investigators and will receive the flexible support necessary to move their research in creative new directions. The Pew scholars named HHMI investigators are Peter Baumann (2003), Michael Dyer (2004), Nicole King (2004), Tirin Moore (2004), Dyche Mullins (2000), Michael Rape (2007), and Rachel Wilson (2005).More info
2009 Pew Biomedical Scholar Charles Mullighan was part of a research team at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital which recently found mutations responsible for more than half of a subtype of childhood brain tumors. Their paper in Nature Genetics pinpointed alterations in two genes that increased the risk of low-grade gliomas—the most common childhood tumors of the brain and spinal cord—and identified an existing drug as a possible treatment.More info
Salil Lachke, a 2012 Pew scholar and assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Delaware, has been selected by the Alcon Research Institute as a 2013 Young Investigator. As one of just eight researchers worldwide to receive the $50,000 grant, Dr. Lachke will continue his work on an online tool he created to discover genes related to glaucoma and other eye diseases.More info
Jeff Gore, a 2011 Pew Scholar and assistant professor of physics at MIT, has been awarded a four-year, $1,131,603 grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences – one of the 27 National Institutes of Health – to pursue research into cooperation and cheating in the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.More info
Ben Stanger, a 2009 Pew scholar and assistant professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, has demonstrated that cells can change their identities under normal conditions in the body. In a study published in Genes and Development, Dr. Stanger pinpointed the gene that allows the main type of liver cells in mammals to convert into the cells lining bile ducts.More info
To understand how embryos develop, many researchers look to animal models such as worms and frogs. But Mary Gehring, a 2011 Pew Biomedical Scholar and assistant professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, turns to plants—even weeds.More info
Learn more about the women scientists of Pew's Biomedical Scholar's Program and help celebrate Women's history month.More info
In celebration of what would have been Albert Einstein’s 134th birthday, FoxNews.com ran an article highlighting young researchers, including 2011 Pew scholar Ann Morris. Thanks to her creative research on vision in zebrafish, Dr. Morris was mentioned among scientists who are “poised to change the way we live today, and will continue to influence our culture in the coming decades.More info
Dinu Florin Albeanu, a 2012 Pew Scholar, was profiled in National Geographic’s “Only Human” series, which highlighted his success as a Romanian scientist. Having lived in Bucharest for most of his life, Dr. Albeanu recognizes the challenges facing Romania’s scientific enterprise. Since relocating to the United States, the assistant professor of neurology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has co-founded a summer program for aspiring neurologists in Romania. More info
2011 Pew Scholar Wins Paul Allen Distinguished Investigators Award to Unlock Fundamental Questions in Biology
Jeff Gore, 2011 Pew Scholar and assistant professor of physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has won the Paul Allen Distinguished Investigators Award to Unlock Fundamental Questions in Biology. The award, announced today by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, provides $7.5 million in exploratory grant funding to a carefully selected group of scientists who will embark on five new pioneering research projects that aim to unlock fundamental questions in biology. Dr. Gore will use single-celled yeast to explore how ideas from game theory can provide insight into cellular decision making.More info
Dr. Michael "Micha" Rape, a 2007 Pew Scholar, has been named winner of The Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for his work on ubiquitination, a process which "tags" damaged or bad proteins for destruction, as it relates to many diseases, including cancer or neurodegeneration.More info
Ben Stanger, named a Pew biomedical Scholar in 2009, co-authored a paper in Genes and Development describing a master regulator protein, which may explain the development of aberrant cell growth in the pancreas spurred by inflammation.More info