Fred Figa, Who Helped Expose a Drug’s Dangers, Is Dead at 65


This obituary is a part of a sequence about individuals who have died within the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others right here.

In late 1983, a employees member within the neonatal ward of Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., had a query for Fred Figa, a younger pharmacist who belonged to the hospital unit that investigated the protection of latest medicines.

A pharmaceutical firm was pitching a brand new vitamin E injection, marketed below the model identify E-Ferol, as a dietary complement for untimely infants. It appeared innocent sufficient. Should they purchase it?

Mr. Figamade a flurry of cellphone calls and found that the injection had in reality not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration. No, he replied. Hold off. Then he alerted federal investigators.

His diligence would save an untold variety of infants’ lives.

Mr. Figa and the investigators had stumbled onto a lethal product security disaster, and a scandal. Officials, aided by Mr. Figa’s dogged analysis, would later discover that the F.D.A. had did not enact safeguards pertaining to E-Ferol’s unwanted effects in low-weight newborns — unwanted effects that resulted in the deaths of 38 toddlers from organ failure in hospitals across the nation.

Mr. Figa turned a star witness at congressional hearings that pressured E-Ferol’s distributor, O’Neal, Jones & Feldman Pharmaceuticals, to tug it from the market in mid-1984.

“He wouldn’t let it go. He was the type of one who would observe one thing to the nth diploma,” stated his spouse, Janice Russell Figa, who was pregnant when Mr. Figa started calling hospitals across the nation to map the sample of issues.

Mr. Figa, who went on to work for many years as an in-house authorized counsel for the regulatory compliance items of drug firms, died on Feb. 16 in a hospital in Morristown, N.J., close to his house in Randolph. He was 65. The trigger was problems of the coronavirus, his household stated.

Along together with his spouse, he’s survived by two daughters, Elise and Stefanie; a son, Paul; three sisters, Perla Kimball, Felicia Pehrson and Heidi Wolf; and a brother, Romek.

Solomon Fred Figa was born on Oct. 20, 1955, in Portland, Maine, to Jewish refugees who has fled the Holocaust: Paul Figa, who based a leather-based shoe enterprise that specialised in moccasins, and Karola (Holzman) Figa, a seamstress. Fred was one in every of six youngsters.

He graduated from the pharmacy faculty at Northeastern University in Boston in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science diploma in pharmacy.

When he uncovered the issues with E-Ferol, he was attending evening courses at George Mason University’s legislation faculty in Washington and dealing half time on the F.D.A., which aided him in his investigation. (He obtained his legislation diploma in 1986.)

Mr. Figa by no means sought the highlight. At first he refused to testify or communicate to reporters, puzzled that merely taking note of the small print of his work — a spotlight that he discovered from tooling and stitching leather-based in his father’s store — would garner consideration.

He was ever looking out for lurking hazards. His daughter Elise stated in a cellphone interview that when she was a youngster, she appeared in a group manufacturing of “Peter Pan” as Liza, the maid, a task that required her to simulate flight on suspended wires.

Her father demanded to examine the equipment. The director obliged, then advised Mr. Figa they have been brief a couple of pirates within the refrain.

“He went to the costume place and obtained a faux earring and detachable tattoo of an enormous scar throughout his cheek, and he simply had the most effective time,” Ms. Figa stated.

“So, each weekend for a couple of month, he’d be a pirate, then on Monday he’d go to work because the pharmaceutical lawyer.”



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