Senators Seek Investigation of FDA Conflict-of-Interest Policy for Advisory Committee Members
Several senators on Wednesday asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate an FDA policy that allows some scientists who have potential conflicts of interest to serve on advisory committees, the Los Angeles Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 9/22).
In a letter to GAO, Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) wrote, "We are concerned about the process that supports FDA's decisions to waive conflicts-of-interest rules for scientists with financial ties to the manufacturers of products under consideration or their competitors." They added, "These practices appear to have undermined the public's faith in the objectivity and fairness of FDA's advisory committees." The letter cited alleged conflicts of interest among members of FDA advisory committees that recently examined COX-2 inhibitors and silicone breast implants.
FDA policy mandates that scientists be free of conflicts of interest concerning products they discuss for approval. However, FDA can issue a waiver to allow such scientists to serve on advisory committees when their expertise outweighs the potential conflict of interest or the financial interest is small (Associated Press, 9/21).