Lawmaker Alleges FDA Attorney Filed Briefs on Behalf of Pharmaceutical Companies in Liability Lawsuits
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies, on Tuesday said that FDA Chief Counsel Daniel Troy has intervened on behalf of pharmaceutical companies in several product liability lawsuits, the Bloomberg/Baltimore Sun reports. According to Hinchey, Troy filed briefs in four liability lawsuits on behalf of Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and several other pharmaceutical companies. Hinchey said that the actions violate an FDA tradition to avoid intervention in lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies unless asked by the courts and also pose a conflict of interest because Troy represented Pfizer in his previous position as a partner in the law firm of Wiley, Rein and Fielding (Bloomberg/ Baltimore Sun, 7/14).
Hinchey cited testimony from a lawsuit against Pfizer that indicated Troy asked pharmaceutical companies for opportunities to intervene on their behalf in liability lawsuits. According to the testimony, Troy led a roundtable discussion in which he asked corporate counsels for pharmaceutical companies to seek FDA intervention in such lawsuits. Troy "made it abundantly clear that the FDA would exercise its intervention powers to protect defendants from liability in state and federal courts throughout the nation," according to the testimony. In the briefs filed on behalf of pharmaceutical companies, Troy argued that only FDA has the authority to determine when and how pharmaceutical companies should issue product warnings. Troy also argued that state court decisions could undermine FDA authority over product labels (Heil, CongressDaily, 7/13). Hinchey said Troy "is supposed to act in the interests of the public and the public health, not his former drug industry clients" (Bloomberg/ Baltimore Sun, 7/14).
The House on Tuesday passed an amendment to the fiscal year 2005 agriculture appropriations bill sponsored by Hinchey that would reallocate $500,000 from the FDA Office of the Chief Counsel -- the "amount of taxpayer money Hinchey says Troy wasted," the Denver Post reports (Mulkern, Denver Post, 7/14). Hinchey said, "FDA is spending public money to defend drug companies being sued in state courts" (CongressDaily, 7/13). According to Hinchey, FDA spent 622 hours to draft the briefs that Troy filed on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. Hinchey said that the amendment would reallocate the $500,000 to improve FDA enforcement of misleading advertisements sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.
FDA Acting Commissioner Lester Crawford on Tuesday said in a statement said that Troy "is a dedicated and talented public servant who has provided excellent legal advice to FDA," adding, "Any allegation that he has not conducted himself in compliance with applicable legal and ethical rules is simply false." FDA declined to comment on specific questions about the allegations made by Hinchey (Denver Post, 7/14). Pfizer spokesperson Bryant Haskins said, "Pfizer does not contract with individual lawyers. We contract with law firms, including Wiley, Rein and Fielding" (Bloomberg/ Baltimore Sun, 7/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.