The European Ombudsman has determined that the European Commission did not mishandle possible conflicts of interest involving a scientific panel’s 2014 opinion on the safety and performance of dental amalgam and its alternatives.
The inquiry stemmed from a complaint filed in 2014 by a citizen from Sweden, who alleged that six members of the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks working group were in a conflict of interest situation.
However, the Ombudsman’s office found that the Commission did not breach its duties during its evaluation of the independence and suitability of the panel’s members, according to a decision released Dec. 21.
The Ombudsman conducted a review of the SCENIHR secretariat’s individual analysis of the declarations of interest made by the six working group members and found that four of them were unproblematic. A fifth working group member had an interest related to Bisphenol A, but that person did not contribute to those parts of the opinion.
The sixth member did not declare his work in relation to two clinical studies for a company with a vested interest because he did not think it was necessary to do so. The SCENIHR Secretariat found that the studies should indeed have been declared, but found that they did not create a conflict of interest situation.
The Ombudsman agreed with the Secretariat’s conclusion, saying the extent and nature of the sixth member’s working relationship with the company did not create a conflict of interest.
“If the working group member had an extensive and long-term working relationship with that company, to an extent that his future financial interests might be intertwined with those of that company, his independence from that company might be questionable,” says the Ombudsman’s decision.