Dr Steven Nissen, chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, was recently a member of a panel debating the topic of: "Government Science Panels: Fair and Balanced?" which was moderated by National Public Radio's Snigdha Prakash, and sponsored the Center for Science in the Public Interest on Aug. 2 2006.
Dr Nissen spoke about the conflict-of-interest problems "evident at the highest levels of the FDA," the article says.
"For years," Dr Nissen said in describing FDA leadership, "we had an interim FDA Commissioner, Lester Crawford, who shortly after confirmation, abruptly resigns, apparently because he and his wife owned stock in regulated companies."
"Then the administration appointed Andrew Von Eschenbach as interim commissioner, creating another conflict," he noted.
"In his role as director of the National Cancer Institute," Dr Nissen said, "Von Eschenbach must seek FDA approval for human testing or approval of new cancer drugs, an obvious conflict."
But even worse, he said, "the administration appointed Scott Gottlieb as deputy commissioner."
"He came to this job with no regulatory experience, directly from Wall Street, where he served as a biotech analyst and stock promoter
"Between them, Drs. Von Eschenbach and Gottlieb have whined incessantly about the need to speed drug development."
"So while the American people worry about the safety of drug the top FDA leadership tells us we need faster drug approval."
Funny, I thought people cared about both. And for such a smart guy who wants to be FDA commish, the inability to conceive of faster drug approval and safer medicines being one in the same reflects scientific stupidity or political cupidity, or both. And for someone whose own studies have demonstrated excess mortality in the wake of promoting the stocks of companies he conducts research for, I would not be talking about putting profits before safety if I were him.