Since 2002, pharmaceutical companies have been paying a scientific panel that advised the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on policies for testing the efficacy and safety of pain drugs, according to emails obtained under a public records request.
IMMPACT is the name of the panel founded by two university professors to guide the U.S. agency in weighing evidence obtained from clinical trials. They reportedly have met 16 times since its inception.
FDA deputy director Douglas Throckmorton said that FDA officials were merely listening to what scientists had to say as opposed to establishing new policies. He further noted that the panel was not subject to specific rules that apply to public-private partnerships, since it was not created by the drug regulator.
According to the email, drug makers each paid up to $35,000 annually to have a representative on the 30-40 member panel, which also included officials from the FDA and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as academics. These reports indicate that as many as 14 pharmaceutical company representatives participated in the panel discussions at any given time. The email also stated that academics were offered payments of about $3,000 to attend each meeting, while panel founders Robert Dworkin of the University of Rochester and Dennis Turk of the University of Washington received $50,000 each.
Following the panel meetings, consensus papers regarding scientific matters related to testing the drugs were published in research journals.
Dworkin contended that the guidelines generated by the group were of high quality and that he was not aware of any negative published comments.
What do you think of our government agency paying their own representatives to be part of the Watch Dog group that evaluates the safety and effectiveness of pain medications? Do you think the opinions coming from this agency are biased or have a tendency to favor the Big Pharmas despite Dworkin’s assertion that no wrongdoing has taken place? Feel free to comment on this blog post.
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