Friday, November 16, 2007

Questions About the Board of the New Reagan-Udall Foundation

On PharmaLot, Ed Silverman noted questions raised about the leadership of the new Reagan-Udall Foundation, which is supposed to help the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) streamline drug and device development. The foundation's financing through the pharmaceutical industry had already raised one obvious set of questions.

New questions were raised by the just announced membership of the Foundation's board. Silverman focused on the presence of Dr Tadataka Yamada, billed as President, Global Health Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr Yamada, however, was previously a GlaxoSmithKline executive, and had been accused of trying to intimidate one of the early critics of Avandia (rosiglitazone). (See our post here.)

I should also point out that another member of the board is Dr William Brody, billed as President of Johns Hopkins University. But Brody also is a director of Medtronic Inc, a large manufacturer of medical devices, and as such has a fiduciary responsibility for that company's finances and operations. Thus, he seems to represent device manufacturers, but I suspect was not appointed as such. Brody was also recently involved in the creation of a speech-code at his university which threatens punishment of any student who is "rude" or "disrespectful." (See our post here.)

Thus, the leadership of this new foundation seems more tilted towards industry than perhaps it ought to be. Furthermore, it is disturbing that it contains at least two individuals who have been identified with efforts to suppress expression that "our new ruling class" might not like.

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