UPS delivers. UCS misleads. (Both wear brown shirts.)

  • by: |
  • 07/27/2006

I read the news today. Oh boy.

Here’s the most recent example of SchadenFDAude (noun. Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of the FDA) …

According to the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS), FDA scientists are unhappy with the way the agency is doing business. But just who is UCS, what are they “concerned” about, and who are the unhappy FDA campers?

First UCS. Perhaps the best way to put into perspective this “unbiased” organization is to point out that their “fact sheet” (you should excuse the expression) uses the following as examples of “recent examples of abuses of science at the FDA” — Antidepressants, Vioxx, Plan B, and Ketek.

The grand slam of FDA-bashers. Unbiased? Nope. So, comment one — consider the source (which is more than the MSM did when reporting this story).

Second, who are the unhappy scientists at the FDA? Consider who filled out the UCS “research” instrument:

* 34% fewer than 5 years of FDA service
* 34% GS 9-12
* 34% Consumer Safety Officer

While the opinions of junior reviewers are certainly important, are their musings on what goes on at the highest levels of the FDA (or even within their own divisions) really relevant?

By comparison:

* 5% Commission Corp (USPHS)
* 2% Title 42 (Public Health Scientists)

(And perhaps the most telling statistic is that less than 17% even responded to the survey. Draw your own conclusions.)

So, pardon the bluntness, but the UCS study is more about junior staff not liking their junior opinions modified or corrected by the bosses. Not coincidentally, the percentage of “unhappy scientists” uncovered by this new “unbiased” study seems to generally fall into the thirty percent range.

Research is like a bikini. What it shows you is interesting, but what it conceals is essential.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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