In a recent announcement, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg stated that the agency may next year loosen certain conflict of interest restrictions that prevent scientists with financial ties to the drug industry from becoming members of FDA advisory panels.
There are 45 different FDA advisory committees that, according to the FDA’s own website, are supposed to obtain “independent expert advice on scientific, technical, and policy matters.” In other words, these panels are purportedly to be composed of objective, unbiased individuals that do not have financial or other ties to the very companies about which they are advising. Makes sense, right?
Well, in the eyes of Commissioner Hamburg, these common sense restrictions, which at least give the illusion that the FDA conducts honest regulatory work on behalf of the people, are unreasonable and must be eliminated.
Hamburg apparently believes that drug industry-funded “scientists” are vital to the FDA’s work, having stated publicly that allowing Big Pharma shills to serve on advisory committees is essential if the agency is to get the information it needs to make decisions.
“We have to be sure that FDA has subject-matter experts that we need for our important decision making,” stated Hamburg. But expecting to receive “independent expert advice” from industry-sponsored consultants posing as scientists rather than actual independent scientists, however, is the epitome of inane — and this is precisely what Hamburg is suggesting as a correct form of FDA policy.
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