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Survey finds FDA scientists pressured to exclude, alter findings

Thursday, July 20, 2006

New Survey Finding Half of FDA Scientists Don’t Believe Agency Protects Public Health Underscores Need for Congressional Action

2 in 3 FDA scientists says laws should be changed so agency can “better serve public”

(Washington, D.C.) – A new survey of Food and Drug Administration scientists that found significant outside interference with the FDA’s scientific work, and a lack of faith that the agency is ‘effectively protecting the public health,’ underscores the need for Congress to act now to address problems at the agency.
Among the survey’s findings, performed by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit alliance of more than 100,000 concerned citizens and scientists, included:
• Three in five scientists knew of cases where commercial interests inappropriately attempted to change an FDA action;
• One fifth say they were asked by FDA decision makers to provide “incomplete, inaccurate or misleading information to the public.”
• Nearly two in three said that the laws and regulations that govern the FDA need “change for the agency to better serve the public.”
• Only half felt the FDA is acting effectively to protect the public health;
Many of the comments from FDA scientists referred to outside pressure from the pharmaceutical industry, as well as internal agency pressures, to approve prescription drugs for market with outstanding safety or efficacy issues.
“There is a remarkable amount of pressure placed on reviewers to find ‘creative’ ways to approve problematic drugs,” wrote one scientist.
The UCS survey can be found at http://www.ucsusa.org/
“These findings send a loud and clear message that the very people in the federal government charged with protecting the public health can’t do their jobs because of undue influence,” said Bill Vaughan, senior policy analyst with Consumers Union.
“This is a wake-up call to Congress that it must change how the FDA operates to ensure the public can have faith in the food and drugs they consume each day,” Vaughan said.
Consumers Union is supporting bipartisan legislation in Congress that would overhaul the FDA drug safety system.
For more information on those measures, go to ConsumersUnion.org
Contact: Susan Herold, 202-462-6262