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Friday, 21 July 2006 06:21

Survey Finds FDA Scientists Asked to Lie about Results to Promote Agendas. Maybe Stem Cell Funding Wouldn't Have Helped Anyway

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A report issued yesterday by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) found that many FDA scientists are asked to lie about their work and to inappropriately alter their research. Pressure often comes from political appointees or commercial interests.The study was based on 997 survey responses from workers, most of whom are in senior positions.

In addition to integrity concerns, several scientists also complained about the agency's inability to meet its responsibilities and about worker conditions in general. "The focus should truly be on protecting public health instead of catering to the interest of industry… FDA leadership should let FDA scientists do the jobs they were hired to do," one scientist wrote.

"Science must be the driving force for decisions made at the FDA. These disturbing survey results make it clear that inappropriate interference is putting people in harm's way," said Dr. Francesca Grifo, Senior Scientist and Director of UCS's Scientific Integrity Program. "FDA leaders should act now to improve transparency and accountability and renew respect for independent science at the agency."

In response to the study, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) wrote a letter today to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt urging action to address the problem. "Steps must be taken to halt inappropriate political intrusion into FDA decision making and reverse the decline in FDA's morale and effectiveness," Waxman said.

Highlights from the study:

  • 18% were asked to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information or conclusions for non-scientific reasons
  • 61% knew of cases when political appointees inappropriately injected themselves into FDA determinations
  • 60% knew of cases where commercial interests intervened or attempted to inappropriately intervene
  • 20% were asked to provide misleading information to the public, media, or government officials
  • 40% can't publicly express concerns without fear of retaliation

Click here to read a summary of the report