Cardiac arrest at the FDA

The photograph on your Tuesday front page headlined “Hillary health care” shows Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, in Jerusalem holding a CardioPump—a device used to assist in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. This device was developed in the United States, and data supporting its effectiveness were published in the pre-eminent American medical journal, the New England Journal of Medicine. Nonetheless, the CardioPump is illegal here because the Food and Drug Administration has refused to approve it. In the mid-1990s, in fact, the FDA halted tests of the device because unconscious heart attack victims had not “consented” to its use. 

The CardioPump is essentially a sophisticated suction cup, enabling emergency medical personnel to administer CPR more effectively. It poses no risk, but there is some dispute over how definitive the supporting data are. If the device were approved here, hospitals, physicians and ambulance systems could make their own decisions on whether to use it. Because of the FDA, none of them has that option. 

Unless, that is, they’re in Jerusalem or in any of the other major foreign cities where the CardioPump is in use and where an American senator can travel to pose for a photo-op with the device.