In the U.S. alone, there are upwards of 60,000 different compounds produced for industrial and agricultural use that undergo no safety testing. This is simply a symptom of the revolving door between the FDA and the pharma companies it regulates, a concern that’s been raised by several new studies.
In a study published at the end of September that studied the careers of FDA medical reviewers, researchers found that over half of the hematology-oncology assessors who reviewed drugs between 2001 and 2010 went on to work for the biopharmaceutical industry.
Dr. Vinay Prasad, senior author on the paper and assistant professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, said that the numbers were extremely high, which is a concern for many.
He said that when dealing with such toxic drugs, good judgement takes priority over all else.
He also said that the revolving door raises concerns in that exact area, stating that a person with an employment opportunity may make things easier on the company they receive the offer from.
More than anything, this raises moral concerns, both about the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry.
Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that the revolving door exists and is perpetuated by both pharma companies and the FDA, officials are still claiming that it is damaging and is being looked into.
FDA spokesman Jason Young said that the FDA employs a strict set of rules and regulations to ensure that their staff members are working solely for the public good and not for their own gain or for other companies.
Former FDA Chief Dr. Margaret Hamburg, who left the administration last year, reported that she would wait to enter the industry in a new position to ease concerns over the revolving door issue.
She said the concern about the “perception of the revolving door is damaging to everyone” and that she would not consider “any boards of any company big or small that was regulated by the FDA for a couple of years.”
While it may be reassuring, the revolving door is still a major concern for many.
Prasad is still not convinced that there’s no conflict of interest, as is evident by his research.