The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The FDA’s Conflict of Interest

Mar 5, 2012

At an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) hearing in December, the safety of a birth control pill made by pharmaceutical giant Bayer was reviewed. The public hearing was packed with surviving family members of women who died, and by those who were harmed by taking this medication.

But the big news was the so-called “conflict of interest” on the committee. The FDA had barred a doctor on its drug safety committee, Sidney Wolfe, a consumer protection advocate, from voting due to an “intellectual conflict of interest.”

Here’s the “conflict.” You be the judge.

In a Ralph Nader style consumer guide that Dr. Wolfe edits, Worst Pills, Best Pills News, he explained that an ingredient in the pill under consideration has been linked to heart attacks, blood clots and dozens of deaths that have already been reported to the FDA.

The controversy does not end there. While the FDA took away Dr. Wolfe’s right to vote, they ALLOWED votes by five panel members who have been paid financially by the company that produced the pill, Bayer.

Surprise, surprise–all of these conflicted panelists voted that the drug is safe enough to stay on the market. If THEY had been barred for financial conflict of interest, the vote to allow the drug would not have carried.

What can the public conclude from the FDA’s actions? If you fight publicly for drug safety, that’s an “intellectual conflict of interest”–no doubt, with drug makers’ profits!

But if you take big amounts of money from pharmaceutical companies, THAT conflict of interest makes you the kind of person the FDA–and drug makers–want on their “safety panel.”

Safety be damned–that about sums it up!