The FDA has claimed that a new report prepared by the Eastern Research Group (ERG) showed it is difficult to create advisory committees free from conflicts of interest, because industry advisers have greater expertise. However, an independent analysis of the data shows just the opposite.
It would have taken a single FDA official just one week to replace all the advisers who had conflicts of interest on the four advisory committees analyzed in the study. Furthermore, the FDA would have been able to choose from nearly two potential unconflicted experts for every open slot.
Analysis also showed that these easily identifiable unconflicted experts would actually have been more qualified than the ones eventually chosen.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), along with other prominent science and consumer groups, has urged the FDA to adopt conflict-of-interest guidelines, which would ban anyone with greater than $50,000 a year in financial ties to industry from advisory committees, and deny a vote to anyone with lesser conflicts.
* Center for Science in the Public Interest December 3, 2007