Federal judge dismisses Calif. fluoridation lawsuit

A federal judge has ruled that a Southern California water district can legally add hydrofluosilicic acid to public drinking water even though it has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of disease or dental caries.

In a ruling issued April 10, Janis Sammartino of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California granted the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California's motion to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to stop the water district from adding non-FDA-approved drugs to public drinking water.

The 2011 lawsuit, filed by four Southern California residents "on behalf of themselves and the general public," alleged that MWD was engaging in "the unlawful and unconstitutional medication" of the plaintiffs.

Fluoridation is typically accomplished by adding one of three compounds to the water: sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid, or sodium fluorosilicate -- none of which are FDA-approved, either, according to Jeff Green, national director for Citizens for Safe Drinking Water and a spokeman for the plaintiffs.

The suit did not challenge the policy of fluoridation. Instead, it accused the water district of "bait-and-switch tactics of orchestrating statements by them and their down-line distributors of water to individual consumers when MWD knew that the actual drug product that they deliver had never had a toxicological study performed on the health and behavioral effects of its continued use until 2010, much less approval for MWD's perpetuation of absolute health claims," according to the complaint.

But Judge Samartino disagreed, ruling that private lawsuits cannot be based on the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and dismissed it.

The law firm that filed the lawsuit plans to appeal the decision, claiming that adding the chemical to drinking water for medical purposes without first obtaining FDA approval of this drug for such purposes "is illegal and needs to be stopped."

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