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More Crony Capitalism at the FDA

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handshakeThree years ago a government report found the FDA completely lacking in scientific expertise. The agency’s response? Hire scientists from Big Pharma!

The sixty-page 2007 report, “FDA Science and Mission at Risk,” also said the agency “cannot fulfill its mission” because its scientific base was weak and lacked sufficient capability. In response to this and many other failures, we launched, our campaign to completely reform and restructure the US Food and Drug Administration.
Now that three years have passed, instead of reinforcing its own scientific arsenal, FDA’s response is to spend $25 million to collaborate with outside scientists, including drug industry scientists and other scientists who are funded by Pharma. The agency’s $4 billion budget for the fiscal year that began October 1 includes a $25 million budget request to build additional partnerships with academia (heavily financed these days by drug company money), government agencies—and the pharmaceutical industry itself.
As the Associated Press notes, the FDA has already instituted a series of user fee programs in which drugmakers and medical device makers help pay for the agency’s review of their products. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg stated that the new budget item will improve scientific standards, which will in turn help speed up the approval of new drug products.
So the FDA receives money from drug companies to review their products, and now will rely increasingly on drug company scientists to advise them about science? An old Latin phrase springs to mind: Ovem lupo commitere. It means “to let a wolf guard the sheep.”

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