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

This obesity is part of a series about people who have died in the coronovirus epidemic. Read about others Here.

In late 1983, a staff member in Fairfax Hospital’s neonatal ward in Falls Church, Via, had a question for Fred Figa, a young pharmacist who belonged to a hospital unit that investigated the safety of new drugs .

A pharmaceutical company was pitching a new vitamin E injection, marketed under the brand name E-Ferrol, as a supplement for premature babies. It seemed quite harmless. Should they buy it?

Mr. Figamade detected a spate of phone calls and found that the injections had not actually been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration. No, he replied. Withhold. He then alerted federal investigators.

Their hard work can save the lives of many children.

Mr. Feiga and investigators had stumbled upon a fatal product safety crisis and a scandal. Officials, aided by Mr. Feiga’s research of dogs, later found that the FDA had failed to implement safeguards related to the side effects of e-ferrol in underweight newborns – which led to the results. Death of 38 infantsFrom organ failure in hospitals across the country.

Became Mr. Figa A star witness At a congressional hearing forcing O’Neill, Jones & Feldman Pharmaceuticals, the distributor of e-Ferrol, to pull it off the market in mid-1984.

“He wouldn’t let it go. He was the kind of person who would follow something to an NTH degree,” said his wife, Janice Russell Figa, who was pregnant when Mr. Figa gave hospitals around the country a map of the pattern of problems Started calling for

Mr. Figa, who continued to work for decades as an in-house legal counsel for regulatory compliance units of pharmaceutical companies, died on February 16 near his home in Randolph, a hospital in Mordown, NJ. He was 65 years old. The reason for this was complications of coronovirus, his family said.

Along with his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Alise and Stephanie; One son, Paul; Three sisters, Perla Kimball, Felicia Pierson and Heidi Wolf; And a brother, Romak.

Solomon Fred Figa was born in Portland, Maine, on October 20, 1955, to Jewish refugees who fled the Holocaust: Paul Figa, who founded a leather shoe business that moccasins and Kahl (Holzman) Figa , Was specialized in a sepastress. Fred was one of six children.

He graduated from the School of Pharmacy at Northeastern University in Boston in 1979.

When he uncovered problems with e-Ferrol, he was attending night classes at the Law School of George Mason University in Washington and working at the FDA, which aided him in his investigation. (He received a law degree in 1986.)

Mr. Feiga never sought the spotlight. At first he refused to testify or talk to reporters, surprised that simply paying attention to the details of his work – a focus he learned from leather tooling and sewing in his father’s shop – would attract attention.

He was ever looking for danger. Her daughter Alice said in a phone interview that when she was a teenager, she appeared in a community production of “Peter Pan” as Lisa, the maid, a role she needed to simulate flying on suspended stars. .

Her father demanded an inspection of the system. The director said, telling Mr. Figa that they were some pirates in the chorus.

“He went to the costume spot and got a large mark on his cheek, fake earrings and a removable tattoo, and he had the best time,” Ms Figa said.

“So, every weekend for about a month, he would be a pirate, then on Monday he would go to work as a drug lawyer.”

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