Wednesday, July 26, 2006

FDA Scientists Report Political Interference in Their Work

FDA Scientists Report Political Interference in Their Work By Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA 7/26/2006 The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released the results of their latest survey of FDA scientists last week, their third such report. About one out of every six of the 5,918 scientists contacted returned their completed surveys. The results are disturbing. Over 18% of the responders indicated that they "have been asked, for non-scientific reasons, to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information or their conclusions in a FDA scientific document." Forty percent of responders expressed fear of bringing up safety issues publicly for fear of retaliation, with over 33% of responders even afraid to bring up safety issues privately within the FDA itself. Sixty-one percent knew of cases where political appointees from the FDA or its parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, “inappropriately” tried to influence agency decisions about scientific issues. This indicates that, of those FDA scientists brave enough to even return the survey, a significant number report that unbiased science is not always encouraged or accepted. This belies the public image of the FDA as an unbiased arbiter of public safety, based strictly on science. The “revolving door” of FDA employees and administration officials to and from the pharmaceutical industry apparently allows biased individuals to try to influence official reports. Pure political pressure from above is reportedly sometimes applied in attempting to produce desired results, regardless of the science. The FDA is supposed to be an impartial arbiter of science that protects the safety of Americans by identifying and regulating potentially unsafe products. The reality is that it is a troubled agency which does not always live up to these ideals. The UCS recommends more transparency and accountability in the agency, with additional protections for scientists who simply want to do their work without being told in advance what their reports are supposed to say. You can inform your federal Representative, Senators and the President if you want to voice an opinion on the independence of FDA scientists. To find them start at To read the report, go to the UCS website where it is currently posted on their homepage: or use this link to go directly to the report:

No comments: