Henry Welch

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Henry Welch
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Newbury, Massachuesetts, USA
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
OccupationGovernment Regulator
Years active1939-1960
EmployerFood and Drug Administration
Known forConflict of Interest Scandal

Early Life

Henry Welch was born in Newbury, Massachusets. He received an undergraduate and a master's degree from Brown University and a PhD in bacteriology from Western Reserve University.

Career, Scandal, and Kefauver Investigation

Dr. Welch joined the FDA in 1938 where he was responsible for enacting policies that ramped up penicillin production for use by the military in World War II. Dr. Welch became the Director of the Division of Penicllin Control and Immunology at the FDA which eventually turned into the Division of Antibiotics in 1951. Dr. Welch would continue to serve as Director of the Division of Antibiotics until he was forced to resign in 1960.

Pfizer was implicated in a particularly egregious incident whereby Dr. Welch's allowed Pfizer's advertisement staff to edit a speech Dr. Welch delivered to the 1956 Antibiotics Symposium. Phrases from that speech that were inserted by Pfizer were later used for advertising material and to lend credibility to Pfizer's new antibiotics. In return, Pfizer purchased hundreds of thousands of reprints of the speech which effectively constituted a bribe to Dr. Welch of more than $85,000.[1]

In May of 1960, the Chair of the Senate Antitrust and Monopoly Committee, Estes Kefauver, began a series of investigations and hearings that uncovered Dr. Welch's conflicts of interests and led Dr. Welch to resign on May 19, 1960.[2] The Welch scandal heightened attention to the lack of regulations on the marketing of new pharmaceuticals which contributed to the passage of the 1962 Kefauver-Harris Amendment that tightened regulations on drug advertisements and on the introduction of new drugs.


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  1. Rosen, William (2018). Miracle cure: the creation of antibiotics and the birth of modern medicine. Penguin Books. ISBN 9780143110538.
  2. "DRUG AIDE QUITS; BLAMES POLITICS". New York Times. May 20, 1960.

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