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Hidden conflicts?

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Science  06 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6397, pp. 16-20
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6397.16

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Summary

An investigative report uncovers little recognized and unpoliced potential conflicts of interest among those who serve on FDA advisory panels that review drugs. Some members of such panels are later receiving significant payments from either the makers of drugs they previously reviewed, or from competitors. This is happening despite the FDA's established system to identify possible financial conflicts of interest among those recruited for the drug advisory panels. The investigation analyzed records on the federal Open Payments website between 2013 and 2016. Of 107 physician advisors who voted on FDA advisory committees during this time, 26 later took more than $100,000 from the makers of drugs, or from competing firms. in post-hoc earnings or research support. Even though these payments might not be truly "quid-pro-quo," according to Vinay Prasad, an oncologist who also studies financial conflicts that exist in drug approvals, those asked to weigh in stand to gain tremendously in their further professional careers. "It's in their best interest to play nice with the companies." FDA may also have missed or judged insignificant financial ties physicians had before their service on the drug approval advisory panels.

  • * Data analysis by Charles Piller and Jia You

    The methodology and data for this story are online at https://scim.ag/FDAanalysis. Meagan Weiland and Katie Langin contributed reporting. The story was supported by the Science Fund for Investigative Reporting.