FDA CHIEF MEETS WITH SCIENTIST GROUP TO DISCUSS POLITICAL INTERFERENCE AT AGENCY
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Aug. 8 briefed acting FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach about a recent survey on political interference with agency scientits' work.
Forty percent of the nearly 1,000 FDA scientists surveyed said they were afraid to voice their concerns publicly because of possible retaliation. "Too often, political pressure restricts the FDA from providing information to the public," one respondent said.
Fifty-seven percent said top FDA management failed to consistently support scientists with "scientifically defensible positions that may be politically controversial." Nearly 20 percent "have been asked, for nonscientific reasons, to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information" or their conclusions by agency officials, the UCS report said.
The UCS said von Eschenbach recognized the survey's value and validity, and he expressed concern about low morale at the agency.
The UCS wants von Eschenbach to:
Ensure data or results are never softened for any audience;
Pledge to support scientists who speak out by taking adverse employment action against any manager who retaliates against a reviewer; and
Commit to a culture that supports a collaborative process of testing and challenging scientific hypotheses.
Von Eschenbach did not give a specific timetable or plan for such changes, but invited the UCS to help evaluate the agency's progress in six months.