Thursday, June 3, 2010

The History of the FDA Commissioners and Their Ties to Pharmaceutical Companies

The overall view is that FDA appears to have too many direct links to Pharmaceutical companies, and most directly with recent Commissioners. Lester Mills Crawford was one of the most controversial appointees to the FDA. He was a veterinarian by trade and he was the Commissioner of Food and Drugs for two months in 2005. His appointment was originally held up because of an affair with an FDA employee, but that was later unfounded. He resigned and later pleaded guilty to a conflict of interest in not reporting information regarding his stock holdings in food and beverage, and medical device companies. His prior background was in veterinary medicine at Auburn with a PHD in Pharmacology at the University of Georgia. A Pharmacology background directly connects the research of pharmaceutical drugs and academia, as Universities get research funds from pharmaceutical companies. This symbiotic relationship is not in the best interest of the public.
The FDA Commissioner after Lester Crawford was Andrew von Eschenbach who also had a conflict of interest. He served simultaneously as the FDA Commissioner and as a Director of the National Cancer Institute. Serving a dual role with NCI and the FDA in our view should not be allowed.
A prior Commissioner Jane Ellen Henney 1999-2001 is currently on the board of directors of the pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca. It is not unlawful but certainly shows the connection between BigPharma and the FDA.
The acting FDA Commissioner is Margaret Ann Hamburg who is also a physician by trade, as the FDA has a long history of MD’s. She also served at the US Department of Health and Human Services, and as part of the New York City Commissioner of Health. Her father has ties to the pharmaceutical industry as he has had a career in academic medicine and mental illness research where again Universities get funds to do BigPharma’s research on new drugs.
We feel these types of connections with Pharmaceutical companies create an unhealthy bias and relationship that isn’t in the best interest of the public. It shows the governments connection with drug manufacturers is not only allowed but part of the requirement to serve on the FDA. The FDA commissioner is appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate. The FDA is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs, and other roles.
Would it be so out of the question to simply have a director from the Food Manufacturing Industry instead of the long list of MD’s with direct pharmaceutical connections? Having the same commissioner with the same background produces the same drug pushing results, and the same unhealthy drug induced society. We believe that is known as insanity.