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Bush Speaks in Rebuit Tornado-Ravaged Town; Cyclone Hits Myanmar; Heparin Contamination
Aired May 4, 2008 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Rick Sanchez. Welcome, everybody, to the world headquarters of CNN here in Atlanta.
From tragedy springs renewal, hope and a future. As we speak, President Bush is in town that was virtually erased from the map just 12 months ago. Greensburg, Kansas is the town we speak of.
You don't even joke about tornadoes there, but Greensburg is not gone. Want proof? It's graduation day for the town's 18 seniors. And for a commencement speaker, who's cooler than the president of the United States?
We're going to be bringing you this story throughout the day. The president's reaction there and also bringing you updates on what's been going on in Tornado Alley.
First, though, let's start with CNN's Ed Henry in Greensburg.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After the band played "Dawn of the New Day," President Bush delivered his first high school commencement speech to an emotional crowd in Kansas.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. Over the past year the members of your class have relied on fundamental values that have given you strength and comfort as you deal with hardship and you heal your community, and you rebuild your lives.
HENRY: The commander in chief normally would not speak to a class of just 18, but this is not just any high school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, go, back up.
HENRY: One year ago Sunday, virtually the entire city of Greensburg was obliterated by an F5 tornado.
UNIDENTIFIED SURVIVOR: I really felt like we were going to die that night.
HENRY: Eleven killed, many more severely injured.
UNIDENTIFIED SURVIVOR: Everything from the building went bouncing off my head, I guess.
HENRY: The storm destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses. City hall, the fire department, the high school, all gone.
When the president visited a few days later, classes had been shut down for the rest of the year, though officials vowed to reopen last August for this school year.
UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I was so afraid we'd have to share our senior year at another school with students we didn't know, but now I look back and wonder how could I have ever thought that.
HENRY: Classes have been held in FEMA trailers, the basketball team played all its games on the road because the temporary gym, where commencement was held could not accommodate home games.
UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: We couldn't control what happened a year ago, how we've ever adjusted to it and to a new normal. We have thrown off course but we have recovered.
HENRY: The rest of town is still struggling to come back. One side of a street will be rebuilt while the other side is still close to shambles.
BUSH: The tornado tore apart the beams and boards that held your houses together, but it could not break the bonds of family and faith that hold your town together.
HENRY: That bond celebrated when the graduates paused to hand out lilies to their family members.
(On camera): One moment of levity came when the president mentioned that commencement was supposed to be next week but Mr. Bush's daughter, Jenna is getting married so school officials graciously moved up graduation. The president joked that he could have tried to change the wedding date but didn't think he'd get approval.
Ed Henry, CNN, Greensburg, Kansas.
SANCHEZ: Seems ironic that the same thing that happened then is still happening. In fact, people elsewhere along Tornado Alley could use some of that Greensburg, Kansas spirit this weekend.
Why? Take a look at the pictures especially in places like Arkansas and specifically Little Rock. Plenty of towns north as well. It's not just heavy damage. There's a death toll. Seven people died when at least three tornadoes lashed the state early Friday, a pastor in Damascus rode out the storm in his church and thought he would die.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PASTOR STEVE STEPHENS, SOUTH SIDE BAPTIST CHURCH: I thought it was the end, and it literally sounded like bombs were going off in here as it was the seams and the bolts breaking and bending as if it did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: So many homes, around 400, were damaged to some degree or another, in some cases just -- totally brought down.
Let's go over to Jacqui Jeras. As we look at some of those pictures you see, some of the things that people of Arkansas have been going through over the weekend and now we hear that there's other big stories, not just here in our own country but across the globe, right?
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, absolutely. There's always something going on somewhere, Rick, and May is a very active month for tornadoes and for some cyclones in the Indian Ocean.
JERAS: While things are pretty quiet here at home for the next couple of days, things have been very busy overseas. At least 350 people have been killed from a tropical cyclone in Myanmar. That's the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane.
CNN's Dan Rivers has more.
DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Furious winds lashed Yangon, Myanmar, formerly Burma. A cyclone Nargis crippled the city tearing off roofs from hundreds of flimsy built houses. Flooding is widespread with cars stuck in swirling ground waters. Much of the city has been paralyzed by fallen trees. People are doing their best to clear a path through the debris.
The brave are venturing out into the city that is now cut off from the outside world. The Democratic Voice of Burma, a broadcast opposition group, says it fears hundreds of people have died, although guessing a true idea of the scale of the destruction with so many roads blocked, electricity and phone lines down in many areas.
The state-run media announced that the military government has declared a state of emergency in five regions in the south of the country. There official death toll has already surpassed 200. The capital's main airport has been closed since the cyclone hit, hampering efforts to get emergency supplies in. There are already reports of rising fuel prices and food shortages.
The disaster comes just a week before the country is due to vote in a controversial referendum on a new constitution, which has been organized by the military junta. It's not clear if that vote will still take place or if the scale of the destruction will force it to be postponed.
Dan Rivers, CNN, Bangkok.
JERAS: And here at home just a reminder that we've been talking about tornadoes the last couple of days. Hurricane season in the United States not all that far away. Officially begins on June 1st and, Rick, at times, we do see some weak tropical systems or subtropical systems develop in the Atlantic at this month. SANCHEZ: And just you know, as a programming note, we should probably let our viewers know we're going to be staying on top of that situation in Myanmar, because, from our experiences, Jacqui, and I can speak for both of us being out there, whatever you think is the case with the hurricane after the initial report, it will change.
SANCHEZ: It's too hard to be able to get in there and really assess what's going on until sometimes a day or two later, right?
JERAS: Right, it's very difficult to get down there. Reports that we're hearing, there are a lot of trees down and of course a lot of destruction so you can't even get into all of the damaged areas.
The death toll is at 350 but they do expect that number will likely go up.
SANCHEZ: And we'll be staying on top of it. We'll have another newscast for you here tonight at 10 o'clock and we'll be bringing you full reports from Myanmar on that and from Jacqui again.
Thanks, Jacqui. We'll get back to you.
On a rugged South Korean beach called Daecheon, witnesses say a huge wave, maybe 16-feet tall, suddenly came out of nowhere. It appeared and crashed into fishermen and sight-seers. There's part of it. Dozens of people were swept into the water and at least nine of them died as a result, at least two kids are among the dead. Rescue boats and divers are searching for anyone who might still be in the water.
Now to another story that's been shocking the world for days now. The details just seem to get more and more unbelievable by the day. We're talking about the monster dad. That's what they call him. He's in Austria.
Nobody knew that Josef Fritzl was allegedly holding his daughter captive for 24 years, apparently not even Fritzl's wife, Rosemarie. Police say that Fritzl has confessed to locking his daughter Elizabeth in a basement dungeon, raping her repeatedly, fathering seven children with her. A woman who identifies herself as Rosemarie Fritzl's sister now has come forward and then saying that Fritzl told his wife the girl was in a cult.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE R., ROSEMARIE FRITZL'S SISTER (Through translator): I must say one thing, he was such a tyrant. When he said it was black, it was black. When it was 10 times white, it was black for him. He tolerated no dissent.
Listen, if I was scared myself, I was scared of him at a family party and I didn't feel confident to say anything in any form that could possibly offend him, then you can imagine how it was for a woman who spent so many years with him. We don't know what he would have done to her. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Amazing inside perspective on a story that we have been following for you for the better part of the last week.
By the way, tonight at 10:00 we'll have a special report on this as well. A family acquaintance also agrees with what she says that Fritzl's wife knew nothing about what was going on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA S. ACQUAINTANCE OF FRITZL FAMILY (Through translator): If she knew anything about it, she definitely would have tried to free her daughter. That's my opinion because she loved her children. One can see that in the way she educates her grandchildren. She does everything for her children, so I'm absolutely convinced that she didn't know a thing about all that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: So far Fritzl has not been formally charged.
There is an intense manhunt right now for a suspect in the killing of a Philadelphia police officer. Police are looking for this man, his name is Eric Floyd, believed to have escaped from a half-way house. He and two other men are accused of gunning down Sergeant Steven Levinsky with an assault rifle as he chased him after a bank robbery yesterday.
One suspect is already behind bars. A third was shot and killed by police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEPUTY COMM. BILL BLACKBURN, PHILADELPHIA POLICE: At this time, Eric Floyd is still at large, should be considered armed and dangerous, and extensive effort is being made to apprehend this individual.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Police say the suspects opened fire using this assault rifle, which still had 25 live rounds in it. That's what it looks like.
Sergeant Levinsky was a 12-year veteran of the Philly police force. He would have turned 40 next week.
The FBI wants to know who attacked a federal courthouse in San Diego today with what's believed to be a pipe bomb. You can see the explosion shattered the glass doors of the building and blew out a window as well. The FBI says that security guards heard the loud blast at about 1:30 this morning. No injuries reported. Streets in the area are now closed as a result of this investigation.
An autopsy being performed today on a worker killed at an industrial explosion in Mississippi. The boiler blast at a paper plant in Redwood injured 17 other workers yesterday. International Paper says the explosion happened after the annual maintenance shutdown, right when the boiler was being started up again. An investigation is going on there as well tonight.
Coming up, a final push for votes, just two days before two crucial primaries, Indiana and North Carolina. Barack Obama on Hillary Clinton today, saying she is speaking much like George Bush. We'll take you to Indiana, and let you hear some of the comments and the back and forth for yourself.
Also high gas prices changing the way you travel? We take an in-depth look and the results will surprise you.
SANCHEZ: We welcome back you back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rick Sanchez.
Every delegate counts in this race, this tight race, for the Democratic nomination, even the tiny island of Guam.
The U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean held their caucuses yesterday. Here are the results. Barack Obama and Senator Clinton are basically in the same place they started. Obama edged out Clinton but just by seven votes. That's out of more than 4500 cast. Obama and Clinton get two pledged delegates each. Guam also has five superdelegates.
They have plenty to say about each other today as well and it's definitely not all nice. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama demonstrated that once again this morning on competing talk shows but tonight the presidential rivals will do their talking in the same building. In a few hours both of them expected at a dinner in Indianapolis, two days before primaries in Indiana and North Carolina.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is part of the best political team on TV. She is in Indiana.
Take it away, Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Rick. Well, actually it was interesting because both of the candidates were here in Ft. Wayne earlier today. They're both going to end up, as you said, in Indianapolis later in the day for that political dinner.
Obviously both of these candidates not taking any votes for granted as they lead up to those critical Tuesday primaries. You're talking about 72 delegates up for grabs in Indiana, 115 for North Carolina, the races are very, very close. The polls showing that it could be either one of them win in the two states. The both of these candidates are making their closing arguments less than 48 hours away from the vote.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a president, again, who will work with all of us together. I will go into that White House and work my heart out for you. There is nothing America can't do once we make up our mind.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people have stood up and they have said we want something new, we want something different, we're going to move this country in a new direction and it will start right here in Indiana on Tuesday, if you're with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And Rick we've heard from both of these candidates and they're really talking about a host of issues that they hope really resonates with the voters. They've been talking about their health care plans, they've been talking about gas prices, education, character, all of these things, in the hopes that people will take a second look at them, because when you take a look at those polls, Rick, you see a group of people who are undecided, that's undecided voters who could really make a difference in the last 48 hours -- Rick?
SANCHEZ: You know, last night I had a conversation with a reporter in Guam, and she was telling me that they split the vote there, as you know, 2-2, but that Barack Obama has two other superdelegates and Hillary has -- Hillary Clinton has one of their superdelegates so actually he's ahead, I guess, by one delegate but that's what it's come down to. You and I sitting here at this time the year talking about one superdelegate in Guam, of all places, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Well, you're absolutely right, Rick. I mean it really is fascinating to cover this race because, obviously, you pay a lot of attention to the voters and what they're talking about and the issues here but the main thrust of this is who is electable in the general election and Hillary Clinton has been making for some time to the superdelegates that it's not Barack Obama.
And Barack Obama has also been trying to woo those superdelegates and it's going to come down very likely to that very small group of people.
SANCHEZ: Moral of the story is, when Guam matters, you got a tight race.
Suzanne, thanks so much. We appreciate it.
MALVEAUX: I agree.
SANCHEZ: Well, of course, CNN is going to bring you all the results from the Indiana and North Carolina primaries as they happen. A live "ELECTION CENTER" special with the best political team on television kicks off Tuesday night at 7:00 Eastern.
But we're certainly not going to wait until Tuesday to tackle some of the tough issues. One of the toughest of this campaign season, record-high gas prices, and how to cut them or bring them down or even attempt to. It's not something you do with a snap of a finger, now is it?
The presidential contenders all have their plans but as we're learning, so do ordinary citizens.
Here is CNN's Josh Levs with his reality check.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: High gasoline prices.
CLINTON: These increasing fuel prices.
OBAMA: Gas prices.
MCCAIN: Our dependence on foreign oil.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): While the president and those vying for his job debate what to do about the soaring gas prices, there's something individual Americans can do.
PETER BEUTEL, OIL INDUSTRY ANALYST: At this point really our only way of getting prices down is for us to voluntarily cut demand.
LEVS: Is that happening? Not really. The Energy Information Administration reports that demand in the second and third weeks of April was higher than for the same time last year. In the final week of April it was slightly below last year, but still about the same amount, nearly $400 million gallons a day.
So, does this mean Americans, by and large, are not responding to these sky-high gas prices in a tangible way?
Actually no, there is a way, Americans are responding with their pocketbooks. They're buying smaller cars that require less fuel. GM is reporting a 27 percent drop in its truck and SUV sales in April, compared to the same month last year. Ford said its SUV sales are down 36 percent. Toyota said its SUV sales fell 8 percent, while sales of its hybrid, Prius, were up 67 percent.
These changes have not yet translated into major changes in gasoline demand, but they do show Americans taking action. One expert says if Americans don't decrease demand for gasoline, the only other possibility may be...
BEUTEL: For a recession to cut demand without really our permission.
LEVS (on camera): We may see a clear decrease in gas use this summer when families traditionally take road trips, expect that to happen if gas reaches $4 a gallon.
Josh Levs, CNN, Atlanta.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SANCHEZ: And speaking of gas prices and you knew this was coming, right? They're up again. According to the latest Lundberg Survey the national average for a gallon of regular is now $3.62 a gallon. Gas prices jumped another 15 cents over the past two weeks, even though crude oil prices edged down a bit. Hmm.
Analysts Trilby Lundberg says gas station owners want to recoup some profits after getting hit hard by soaring isle prices. Doesn't everyone.
The economy, it's "ISSUE #1" and we're going to bring you all the latest financial news all this week at noon Eastern. It's information that you need on the mortgage meltdown, for example, the credit crunch that's going on and more. "ISSUE #1" at noon Eastern right here.
Who is to blame? Tainted bottles of the drug heparin causing numerous deaths across the nation. You're going to hear one woman's heart- wrenching story.
Also, one horse's victory, another one's demise, and it all happens in front of thousands of fans. We'll have more on the euthanized filly.
SANCHEZ: It's amazing the impact that this story has had, what a run, probably one that a lot of people aren't going to soon forget. It's the Kentucky derby. It went from exciting to incredibly sad for many people yesterday. Big Brown favored to win did, taking the first of thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown. And then this, just moments after the race, Eight Belles, the lone filly and second place finisher goes down, falls to the ground with not one but two broken legs, and had to be put down, right there on the track, euthanized, in front of all those people.
I'll tell what you, people are really torn up about this and the fact that Eight Belle was put down right there in front of the spectators. Many of them children has had a lot of people asking a lot of questions, a lot of people really sad about this so we decided to look into it and try to answer some of your questions.
Joining us now by phone is Dr. Celeste Kunz. She's a horse veterinarian with the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
So you know horses and you can answer what is the obvious question that a lot of people have in n their minds. Did this horse have to be euthanized? Did it have to be put down, doctor?
DR. CELESTE KUNZ, EQUINE VETERINARIAN: Yes, I'm sorry to say. It was an unsalvageable injury. If you watch the replays you'll see that when she switched leads to her right front and landed awkwardly under fatigue, she fractured her cannon bone and additionally she fractured her sesamoid. The added weight on the left front dislocated that joint and it was a hopeless injury.
SANCHEZ: Well, I guess the question is then why, with human beings, you can put a cast on it, you can fix it, and eventually it heels. Why couldn't we come up with technology that would allow to us do that with horses?
KUNZ: That's a very good question that's related to the horse's physiology. The horses' internal organs, including the digestive and circulatory systems, are dependent on the horse's continued mobility. Restrictions to movement, including the prolonged use of slings, casts, or braces prevent the horse's vital organs from functioning properly. This -- it produces a second life-threatening situation for an injured horse, of either colic or laminitis, as we saw with Barbaro.
SANCHEZ: So when a horse has two broken legs and it's a -- you know, obvious compound fracture, as this one seemed to be, or certainly a complex fracture, you literally -- the most humane thing you can do for it is to put it down. But do you have to do it as quickly as they did and so publicly?
KUNZ: Yes, you do. Because it's in the best interests of the horse, not to experience this, the true pain of a fracture. After the race, when there is adrenalin pumping, and before the nerve endings all are torn, the horse doesn't experience the full extent of the pain, so if you can bridge that, and you have about eight to ten minutes, if you can bridge that, then you prevent the horse from suffering.
SANCHEZ: And explain to us how it's done. Is it -- what is it, an injection that they use and how fast does it work?
KUNZ: Yes, it works in about 10 seconds, and you're literally just anesthetizing them and they don't recover from the anesthesia. It's an overdose. So they just fall asleep. It's very, very quiet and it's very quick.
SANCHEZ: Dr. Celeste Kuzn, thanks so much for giving us your insight on this. Certainly people all over the country have had a lot of questions and I think that you've done a magnificent job of answering them. Thanks, once again.
KUNZ: We're very lucky with the advances in veterinary medicine that we have this much less frequently than in the past.
SANCHEZ: Thanks again, doctor, appreciate it.
Tragic questions about drug safety as well tonight. Anger and sadness from people who lost loved ones after they took a tainted blood thinner and they hoped to bring about change.
Also, danger could lurk in your medicine cabinet. Did you know? Find out what you need to know, so that what happened to others doesn't happen to you.
SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back to the CNN NEWSROOM -- a story now that might scare you a bit. Hearings on Capitol Hill this week left many people wondering how safe are the drugs that we count on? Case in point here a blood thinner, it's called heparin. Eighty-one people died after being given a contaminated form of this drug, key word here contaminated. Contamination that the FDA now indicates may have been deliberate. But where, who, why? Those details lost in translation, I want to you take a look at this report that's put together by CNN's Louise Schiavone. And notice all the finger pointing and the doubletalk.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The makers of the blood thinner heparin now have an explanation, someone, somewhere contaminated their product.
ROBERT PARKINSON, JR., CEO, BAXTER INTERNATIONAL: We're alarmed that one of our products was used in what appears to have been a deliberate scheme to adulterate a life-saving medication.
SCHIAVONE: Who, they don't know except it wasn't them. This from Scientific Protein Laboratories, which built the Changzhou China plant that makes heparin's active ingredient.
DAVID STRUNCE, SCIENTIFIC PROTEIN LABORATORIES: The recent worldwide contamination appears to be the result of a deliberate act upstream in the supply change. The contamination was not SPL or Changzhou SPL specific.
SCHIAVONE: But there's been no ruling on whether the contamination was deliberate or accidental. And the Food and Drug Administration inspector who visited the Chinese factory could not understand how parent company Scientific Protein Laboratories could have inspected the plant and its processing tanks and given the all clear.
REGINA BROWN, FDA FIELD INVESTIGATOR: I scratched stuff off the inside of the tank and this was a tank that was marked clean. A second tank I turned over and liquid fell out of the handle.
SCHIAVONE: But the FDA was on the hot seat too with lawmakers incredulous at the agency's overall approach to Chinese imports.
REP. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: Can you imagine what we would do if al Qaeda had put some foreign substance in heparin? Can you imagine what the threat level would go to?
SCHIAVONE: Meanwhile, the real life consequences of the bureaucracy's breakdown were heartbreakingly apparent.
LEROY HUBLEY, LOST WIFE AND SON: My wife Bonnie died in December from receiving heparin that was later recalled by Baxter. My son Randy died a month later under the same circumstances.
COLLEEN HUBLEY, LOST HUSBAND: As a nurse, I thought that I would be there to save my husband from any errors. But I guess I was naive. I never thought the life saving medication we were relying on might be contaminated.
SCHIAVONE: Committee Chairman John Dingle declared it was impossible for citizens to trust their food, drugs or medical devices. (on camera): There's an import alert out now for all heparin products from the Changzhou plant. But the FDA concedes that of the nation's 321 ports, inspectors are posted at only 90. Louise Schiavone for CNN, Washington.
SANCHEZ: It's amazing to look at that story from this vantage point. Now imagine actually being affected by this, imagine how betrayed a family would feel to have been affected by this particular drug, and the government's failure to check on it. Johanna Staples was among those who testified. She lost her husband Dennis in December of last year. She joins me now by phone. Johanna, first our condolences. Thanks so much for being with us.
JOHANNA STAPLES, LOST HUSBAND TO HEPARIN: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Your husband took heparin and how soon after he took it did you see the problem develop?
STAPLES: He was on dialysis when this occurred and I was at work, so I didn't physically see him have the difficulty. I was called at work after the event.
SANCHEZ: And there's no question in your mind that there was a quid pro quo here, he took it and it led to his death?
STAPLES: It's administered intravenously during dialysis to help the blood flow so absolutely.
SANCHEZ: So what did you think when you found out, when you heard this?
STAPLES: It was a difficult thing to hear. First of all, we didn't find out until sometime after he had passed, and so what we had done was make some peace with a terrible situation. And when we heard that there was probably another reason that had caused his passing, it totally upturned everything that we had kind of worked out.
SANCHEZ: So your husband would be alive right now, had it not been for a drug that should have been monitored and regulated by our government, but somehow wasn't. Is that right? Is that clear?
STAPLES: That's exactly what I believe.
SANCHEZ: Wow, what do you say to the people in the government who should have made sure that that drug was monitored?
STAPLES: I spoke clearly and I hope not too foggy about what I said. I asked them, please, to make sure not for us now, but for everyone else that must deal with illness, that they have drugs that are safe, that they can rely on what they receive, and what they must have as being safe.
SANCHEZ: You've been affected by this, so you obviously must have also been affected by the comments that you've heard that some people in the government are saying that this may have actually been something done deliberately. What do you make of that?
STAPLES: Well, that makes it even scarier. If it was deliberately done, I guess I'd like to know why. I'd like to know why there weren't any restrictions placed on preventing it from happening, or if there were restrictions, why didn't they work.
SANCHEZ: I'll tell you, Johanna, thanks so much for joining us and sharing your story with us. It's courageous of you to do so.
We want to continue to get information on this story. All of us, at one time or another, has taken prescription medication or over-the- counter medication. Obviously a story like this leaves all of us wondering, after hearing Johanna's story what is safe. And we want to answer that question now, if we can.
Joseph Ferullo, he's an assistant professor at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston. And my thanks, doctor, for joining us. Obviously I'm thinking it. I'm thinking on behalf of my children and hundreds of thousands of viewers who are out there asking themselves, listen the next time I take medication, how do I know that it is not a bad supply also? What do you say to them?
JOSEPH FERULLO, MASS. COLLEGE OF PHARMACY: Sure, Rick, thank you for having me first and foremost. It is, this day and age especially where the OTC market is on the rise, right now.
SANCHEZ: The what market?
FERULLO: The OTC, over-the-counter drug market.
FERULLO: Is clearly on the rise. You see about a $15.5 billion industry annually with these products, since the mid '70s, up until now there's probably roughly 100 or so drugs that are now over-the- counter. So what that leads us to is more and more consumers are self-treating, self-medicating themselves, which is a good thing. But some of the negatives and consequences to this are the products fully safe, does the consumer, is the consumer fully aware of the side effects and adverse effects.
SANCHEZ: Let's just stick to the first part. Are the products fully safe?
SANCHEZ: That's what people want to know.
SANCHEZ: Especially some of the drugs that are coming in from overseas. As a pharmacist, are they?
FERULLO: Sure, I would like to think so. We put our faith and trust in the government, and what we do see is the FDA strongly regulates the sale of the over-the-counter products such as cough and cold medications, and analgesics and drugs such that.
SANCHEZ: Who checks it?
FERULLO: The Food and Drug Regulation, the Food and Drug Administration has a group set out to check these products, make sure they're safe and make sure they're efficacious and make sure the ingredients are in these packages are what they're said to be.
SANCHEZ: What if someone somewhere in China or in any other country where these drugs come in from, decided that they were going to taint a batch? How, is there a system in place that would catch them?
FERULLO: Sure, I think that's what they're looking at now, a lot of these drugs produced overseas, I think our policies and procedures have to be strengthened quite a bit.
Are we fully ready to pick up on these tainted batches? I don't know if we're quite there yet but I think they're doing efforts and moving forward to catch as much as possible. A lot of these over-the-counter drugs still are produced in the United States.
I know we do see some drugs coming in through India and what have you, they come in through Canada, they and make their way down to the U.S. and there is concern to look at these drugs more closely.
SANCHEZ: We're down to 30 seconds, but let me ask you this. As a consumer, is there anything I can do to protect myself, when I go to the drugstore to buy these drugs or any medication, questions I should ask, things I should look for on the label?
FERULLO: Sure, absolutely. You always want to read the label. When we see some of the stats, it's very alarming, some of the stats most folks go to drugstores, what we see is 8 to 10 percent of the consumers purchasing these drugs over-the-counter do not even read the label. There's another roughly 70 percent, 80 percent who read the label but don't read the adverse effects and warnings.
I think they could be satisfied and safe to know they're safe taking these products, again. They do through a heavy FDA regulated process, but they want to get in touch with their pharmacist day-to-day. Any time a consumer walks into the pharmacy, for them not to go speak to the pharmacist about these medications -- is this the right medication for me? Will this interact with some of my other medications? My kidney function is not where it should be, can I take this medication? The purity and the ingredients we leave that up to the government once again.
SANCHEZ: In other words ask a lot of questions and don't be bashful. I'll tell you this is a story we'll --
FERULLO: You hit it on the head.
SANCHEZ: -- we'll be staying on top of this. We're going to be asking a lot of questions ourselves as we go through it. Thank you, doctor, for taking us through this afternoon.
FERULLO: Thank you, Rick.
SANCHEZ: They say they hate terrorists and all that they stand for. We're going to talk to Muslim-American students. With this upcoming election, what are they thinking about? Who are they going to vote for? This is what we call the "League of First-Time Voters." We'll be back.
SANCHEZ: We welcome you back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rick Sanchez.
For the past several months now, I've been talking from one part of the country to the other, talking to newly energized first-time voters. We've talked to Mennonites, we've talked to conservative students for John McCain, women for Hillary Clinton, talked to some mixed groups. Some skew to the right, some skew to the left, some for one candidate, some for another candidate.
Tonight I'm taking you in this edition to Michigan, so you can hear from some pumped up, energized Muslim-American students voting for the very first time in their lives, who want you to know, above all, that they hate terrorists and terrorism, and all that it stands for. We call this the "League of First-Time Voters."
SANCHEZ: Raise your hand if you're planning to vote for Barack Obama. Raise your hand if you're planning to vote right now for Hillary Clinton. Two in the back! Raise your hand if you're planning to vote for John McCain. Why not want to vote for the guy who is a proven soldier?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A criticism that some Muslim-Americans might have of the approach that John McCain takes on national security is the kind of fear tactic that he seems to sometimes employ. Many Muslim-Americans are concerned about national security, but they are wary when the American-Muslim community is kind of targeted in terms of you know, racial profiling and infringement of civil liberties and I do think that the approach of maybe painting all Muslims with the same brush can really be counterproductive at actually increasing national security, because you never want to marginalize like the moderate Muslim voices. I think they're a really critical community that policy makers should be listening to.
SANCHEZ: When you hear the words "war on terror," what do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many Muslims are confused about this war. Is it a war against terrorism or is it a war against Muslims in Islam?
SANCHEZ: What does it feel like to you as a Muslim?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a war against Islam.
SANCHEZ: Does it bother you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does bother me. As Americans we're looked upon as, in a negative way.
SANCHEZ: Raise your hand if you think the war in Iraq is a mistake? Every single one of you thinks the war in Iraq was a mistake? Why is it a mistake?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was miscommunication about weapons of mass destruction. There was miscommunication about what terrorism really is. There have been groups in Iraq that have been oppressed for decades. And those groups are fighting against those oppressors. And we are getting the wrong image and connecting the wrong people in thinking that terrorism from the 9/11 attacks is linked to Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think if the U.S. was really concerned about fostering a stable democracy in Iraq, it would look to the kind of indigenous forces that are really in favor of democracy. I don't think it's fair to assume that all Iraqis oppose democracy. But when it's framed as a foreign imposition and some see it as almost like neoimperialism or something like that, then I think it's just really counterproductive at achieving that.
SANCHEZ: How much of the problem do you think stems to our alliance with Israel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What American politicians forget to realize not only Israel should live in security and peace, but the Palestinians should live in security and peace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of the main reasons why I'm going to vote for the first time as an American citizen. The U.S. needs to change its international policy and its policy towards the Middle East and that conflict.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people point to the conflict as just evidence of kind of like Muslim oppression worldwide and to kind of rally people up for it to fight for this cause.
SANCHEZ: So that is the principle argument of Osama bin Laden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think Osama bin Laden cares too much about Palestine or the Arabs in general. But when we do things like this and when the Arabs see things like this, it makes them rally with him. It makes them follow a false idol in a sense, that he's representing something that they believe in, which he really doesn't.
SANCHEZ: You guys all think that Osama bin Laden is an extremist?
SANCHEZ: A terrorist?
CROWD: Yes. He does not represent the Muslims.
SANCHEZ: And an SOB?
SANCHEZ: So just to be clear, just to be clear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody who kills innocent people.
SANCHEZ: Anybody who kills innocent people. You think our policy in Iraq and our policy throughout the Middle East in the last six, seven years has actually helped Osama bin Laden?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
SANCHEZ: We've given him what he wanted? Is that what you're saying?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The image we have overseas is because of this idea that we can bulldoze and not be aware of cultural differences, not be aware of sensitivities. Once you get to know people, it's hard to have animosity for each other.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The key point that makes me want to vote for Obama, because he's open to dialogue, he's a man of action and serious about peace.
SANCHEZ: Would you say that's the most impressive thing about his platform?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say he's really open and he's really accepting of others and he'd be willing to at least compromise if it's possible.
SANCHEZ: If this country is capable of voting for a biracial man who, appears to be black, and who comes from a family that has Muslim ancestry, is that a sign that we're moving in the right direction?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's positive, because everything that's modeled for us at home as children, I mean it's got to be, have affected him some way positively.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's a leader who will take this country to the next century as a global superpower.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're looking for a new leadership with a new direction. We need a leadership that will work to enhance and restore the American image abroad especially in the Muslim world.
SANCHEZ: Raise your hand if you're excited about voting this year.
SANCHEZ: You've got everything filed and ready to go. You're going to be there in line come hell or high water, right? You're all going to vote?
SANCHEZ: Good interview. Interesting perspectives, and that's what they are, they're unique perspectives from people who are pumped about this particular election cycle.
By the way tonight at 10, we want to you watch a different perspective. It's going to be Jewish-American students from Northwestern University in Chicago, with something very different from what you just heard there in terms of ideology, so we're talking to all kinds of groups and you can join our growing community. It's called the "League of First-Time Voters." Go now if you can to CNN.com, CNN.com/league. Express yourself, connect with others, tell us where you are, tell us why you think your group is unique. Tell us why you're pumped about this election cycle and I'll come out and I'll pay you a visit and sit down and talk to you just like I did them.
A big show for the Olympic flame. The torch relay reaches mainland China and there was a celebrity on hand as the fanfare started to get under way.
SANCHEZ: Well, let's show you what's going on with the flame, as it arrives on the East Coast, the far East Coast, that is, of mainland China. The Olympic torch relay, it started with a whole lot of fan fare. The organizers are promising a trouble-free tour. Good luck and guess who helped kick it off? A hint by the way, Jackie Chan, all smiles, torch in hand, leading the relay in Sanya City. There it is. No, that's no movie, folks. We'll see you again soon, I'm Rick Sanchez.