26 September 2015

This is a Feature, Not a Bug

The fact that the nominee for head of the FDA has extensive financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry should come as no surprise.

The revolving door has been spinning just as fast during the Obama administration as it ever has been:
It seems to be the season of the revolving door

in health care. The latest version got some media attention, because it involves one of the most important health care leadership positions in the US government, the Director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the case actually seems much more serious than what the media has recently reported.


The only fly in the ointment was the matter of Dr Califf's ties to industry. The WSJ article included,
Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research, a Washington-based group focusing on medical-product safety, questioned his ties to the drug industry.

'Dr. Califf’s expertise and his close ties to the pharmaceutical industry are both well-known,' she said. 'His ties to industry have been a source of great concern to public-health experts when he was previously considered for FDA commissioner, and those ties raise important questions about this nomination.'

The MedPage Today article noted that Public Citizen's Health Research Group stated,
'During his tenure at Duke University, Califf racked up a long history of extensive financial ties to multiple drug and device companies, including Amgen, Astra-Zeneca, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Merck Sharpe & Dohme and Sanofi-Aventis, to name a few,' Michael Carome, MD, the group's director, said in a statement. 'Strikingly, no FDA commissioner has had such close financial relationships with industries regulated by the agency prior to being appointed.'


'There are some who believe his relationship with [the drug industry] may be a problem, but most see it as a value-added factor in building a functional, more streamlined relationship with the industry in order to improve the speed with which truly effective and quality drugs and devices are made available, mitigate the excessive costs associated with pharmaceuticals, and influence policies and practices intended to improve health status.'
If that doesn't scare the hell out of you, it should.

What that nameless source just said is that this is the sort of guy who could make the approval of a drug like Thalidomide go through more smoothly.


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