But he, too, soon began following the Henney line - if I’m going to print anything about the information he shared, I’d have to go through the Press Office. I did that, but the head of that office, George Strait, wasn’t helpful. “The so-called ‘trade press’,” he sneered in one exchange. Meanwhile, the people staffing that office turned over completely, and few knew me or cared about my role in FDA journalism.

I was too independent for them and resisted the rules every other reporter apparently had succumbed to. Strait once allowed that he saw the office’s job as “to spread the good news about FDA.” Obviously we were at cross purposes because I’d never seen that as anything I wanted to do.

Later, Strait was sidelined and replaced by politicos Beth Martino and Meghan Scott, neither of whom was responsive to me. My inquiries would be processed sometimes, not at all other times, interviews were withheld, or if allowed were monitored, my written questions were screened and answers when given were expressed in stiff, non-conversational bureaucratic English.

Informed human-interest, color and context left my writing. After 35 years of insider contacts and reliable, exclusive FDA reporting, I’d been all but shut down by the FDA Press Office. As in the old Soviet Union and Communist China, they are in control now.

All without a word of prior notice or “due process.”

Jim Dickinson is editor and president of Ferdic Inc., publisher of three FDA-oriented trade publications, and Washington columnist for two trade journals.