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Published on 16 October 2007

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Concerns over FDA research centre

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Concerns have been raised over the impartiality of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new drug research centre, which will be paid for by the companies it regulates.

The Reagan-Udall Foundation is being established to streamline and improve the development of drugs and medical devices, something which regulators and pharmaceutical firms such as Merck, Pfizer, Wyeth, and GlaxoSmithKline have been lobbying for.

However, some consumer groups believe the partnership increases the agency’s vulnerability to industry influence.

It is believed that industry executives will hold four seats on the centre’s 14-member board, while the others will be held by academics, consumer advocates and doctors.

Critics worry that while the board’s structure might allow drugs to be developed in a cheaper fashion, improving pharmaceutical industry profits, the savings might not be passed on to consumers.

Francesca Grifo, a director at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), said: “Given FDA’s track record in the past, I’m not confident in their ability to create something that is free of influence from industry.

“Time and again we’ve seen that people within FDA behave as if industry is their primary client.”

UCS has argued that the agency has become too close to drug companies over the past 25 years, since the firms began paying the organisation user fees for the review of drug applications.

Copyright © PA Business 2007

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