Kurt's Historic Sites

Sidney M. Wolfe

Sidney M. Wolfe

Interment Location Visited  
Washington, D.C. January 8, 2024  

Photographed February 12, 2024.

Sidney Manuel Wolfe, M.D. is an interesting case in my catalog of grave visits. In my capacity as an employee of Historic Congressional Cemetery, I assisted with the doctor’s funeral on January 8, 2024. I helped guide mourners into the cemetery, looked after them as they waited for Mrs. Wolfe to arrive, and, after the services concluded, helped Director of Site Sales and Funerals Lily Buerkle gather the folding chairs from Wolfe’s plot in Range 31.5. While the earth was still being placed over his remains, Lily told me how Dr. Wolfe was a famed consumer and health advocate, that his obituary appeared in the New York Times, and that one funeral attendee read aloud a letter written to Wolfe on his deathbed by best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell. This conversation and the day’s events spurred me to learn about Wolfe’s reputation as “in some respects, the bane of the pharmaceutical industry.”

One thing that stands out in almost any article about Wolfe is that he was a unique character.

Conservative advocates of government deregulation were particularly unfond of his work.

Photographed January 10, 2024.

Fast Facts

Born: June 12, 1937 in Cleveland, Ohio

Spouses: Ava Albert (m. -); Suzanne Goldberg Wolfe (m. 1978-2024)

Died: January 1, 2024 in Washington, D.C.

Cause of Death: Brain Tumor

Age: 86

Interment: Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

"Well, I don't consider myself an insider. I'm still working for the Health Research Group of Public Citizen, and my views on these issues haven't changed. I now have access much sooner to much more information to study, so that when I go to one of these meetings, I not only have the 30 seconds or a minute in the public session to say something, but I can cross-examine the industry. I can cross-examine the FDA, and I can try and raise questions based on the information I've gotten from looking. So it's a position that allows me a lot more room to try and influence the outcome than I would in this lineup of people in the public session."
- Sidney M. Wolfe
in response to Wall Street Journal reporter Alicia Mundy asking what he thought would change with him after his August 2008 appointment to the Food and Drug Administration's Drug Safety and Risk Management Committee

Sources Consulted and Further Reading

Fried, Stephen. “Meeting Sidney Wolfe, the Most Dangerous Man in Pharmaceutical Safety.” Medium. January 2, 2024. https://stephen-fried.medium.com/meeting-sid-wolfe-the-most-dangerous-man-in-pharmaceutical-safety-129f361a24ae.

Hooper, Charles L. and David R. Henderson. “The FDA’s Big Bad Wolfe.” Forbes. January 21, 2009. https://www.forbes.com/2009/01/21/fda-sidney-wolfe-oped-cx_ch_dh_0121hooperhenderson.html?sh=556fb1ca1b46.

Medscape. “Wall Street Journal Highlights 2008 Appointment of Dr Sidney Wolfe, Drug-Safety Crusader, to FDA Post.” January 9, 2009. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/586571?form=fpf.

Risen, Clay. “Sidney M. Wolfe, Scourge of the Pharmaceutical Industry, Dies at 86.” New York Times. January 3, 2024. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/03/health/sidney-m-wolfe-dead.html.

The Wall Street Journal. “Phamaceuticals Rebel with a Cause.” YouTube, 4:03. January 9, 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDNnIKKfDBI.

Weissman, Robert. “Remembering Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe.” Public Citizen. January 1, 2024. https://www.citizen.org/remembering-sidney-wolfe/.

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