January 9, 2009 — 9:52am ET |
By Tracy Staton
FDA scientists have lobbed a bombshell
into the debate over new leadership and reform at the agency after
President-elect Obama takes office. According to a letter nine of them
wrote to Obama’s transition team, sweeping changes are necessary at the
agency to banish a corrupt, anti-scientific culture.
The scientists say managers have demanded and intimidated FDA scientists to manipulate data, the Wall Street Journal
reports, and honest employees can’t act with integrity without fear of
reprisal. “There is an atmosphere at the FDA in which the honest
employee fears the dishonest employee,” the letter states. The
scientists say they’ve taken their concerns to Commissioner Andrew von
Eschenbach and others, but no action was taken.
This plea to Obama’s team comes after at least one similar missive
from Congress: Rep. Bart Stupak wrote Obama requesting that he appoint
an outsider to head up the FDA because, he said, the current management
is too close to the industries they are charged with regulating. And
the letter hits the news at a time when lawmakers are considering Tom
Daschle’s appointment as incoming chief of Health and Human Services,
which oversees the FDA. During a hearing yesterday, Daschle said the
agency has lost the confidence of the American people and of Congress.
“This is unacceptable,” he said.
Ex-FDA chief Henney could return
FDA chief to step down as Obama’s sworn in
Health groups try to steer FDA choice
Sharfstein looks to be on FDA short list
Sweep the FDA clean, Stupak says
Kindler: Take politics out of the FDA