Monday, February 28, 2005

Follow Up on Alleged Conflicts of Interest Affecting the FDA Panel on Cox-2 Inhibitors

Bloomberg reported that an FDA spokesperson claimed that "the advisory committee members were screened for conflicts of interest according to the same strict guidelines FDA applies to all its advisory committees." Furthermore, she claimed that all relationships among panel members and health care companies were disclosed verbally prior to the meeting. Yet this disclosure has not otherwise been made public. Nor has the roster of the committee. Finally, the FDA has not yet responded to any of the specific allegations of conflict of interest made by the New York Times.
Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) commented to the LA Times,"the votes of the joint advisory committee are now, justly or unjustly, tainted."
Given all the concerns about conflicts of interest affecting first the NIH, and now the FDA, one would think that the agency would have made a stronger effort at least to disclose any panel members' possible conflicts of interest. And as Merrill Goozner, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said, "I don't believe this country is so small the FDA can't find unconflicted scientists who have the requisite expertise."

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