Conflicts of Interest Influence Voting on FDA Advisory Panels, Study Finds

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Nearly 30 percent of the experts on Food and Drug Administration advisory panels reported financial conflicts of interest, but excluding them would not have changed the recommendation for or against any particular drug, a consumer group said yesterday.

The study by Public Citizen's Health Research Group did find that conflicts of interest can slightly increase the likelihood that panelists will vote to recommend that the agency approve a drug. The group's analysis of voting data was culled from 221 drug advisory committee meetings from 2001 to 2004.

"For every additional conflict you have a 10 percent increased probability that the meeting will favor the company more," said co-author Peter Lurie, deputy director of health research.

The FDA often turns to panels of outside experts for advice on whether to approve a new drug and other matters. The agency is not required to follow the panels' recommendations but usually does.

Financial links between the panel members and drugmakers have come under scrutiny, with calls for the FDA to find advisers without industry connections.

Of nearly 3,000 panel members in the study, 28 percent disclosed a financial relationship within the previous year with the company that made a drug under discussion or a competitor, the study said. The most common ties were consulting arrangements, research contracts or grants, and stock holdings or other investments.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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