FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

FDA Commissioner Hamburg Appointed WHO Deputy?

by

Many had high hopes for the FDA when Margaret Hamburg was confirmed as Commissioner in 2009 because of her public health background. But she swiftly moved to loosen conflict of interest rules governing those who can serve on FDA expert advisory panels, claiming it was too hard to find experts without Pharma financial links.

Her move followed a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter’s revelations that child psychiatrist Jorge Armenteros, a paid consultant to AstraZeneca, was on an FDA committee voting on–any guesses?–the AstraZeneca drug Seroquel.

Last month, more questions about embedded conflicts of interest at the FDA were raised when Commissioner Hamburg appointed Robert Califf, M.D., chancellor of clinical and translational research at Duke University, as the next FDA Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco despite a thicket of conflicts of interest. It was one of her last official acts before announcing her resignation last week.

A disclosure statement on the website of Duke Clinical Research Institute says “Robert M. Califf, MD, reports receiving research grant support from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson/Scios, Lilly, Merck, and Schering Plough, and consulting fees from Annenberg, Aterovax, Bayer/Ortho McNeil, BMS, Boehringer Ingelheim, GSK, WebMd/theheart.org, Johnson and ohnson/Scios, Kowa Research Institute, McKinsey & Company, Medtronic, Merck, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi Aventis, and Schering Plough, and has an equity position with NITROX, LLC.”

In disclosure information for a 2013 article in Circulation, Dr. Califf’s also lists financial links to Gambro, Regeneron, Gilead, AstraZeneca, Roche, others companies and equity positions in four medical companies. The medical website Medscape discloses that Dr. Califf “served as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for Genentech” as well as for Medscape LLC/theheart.org. Portola Pharmaceuticals says Dr. Califf served on the Board of Directors until he was appointed FDA Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco.

Appearing on PBS with Susan Dentzer after Vioxx was withdrawn because of its links to thousands of heart attacks and stroke, Dr. Califf said, “Merck played by the rules from everything that I’ve seen.” He also said, “many of us consult with the pharmaceutical industry, which I think is a very good thing. They need ideas and then the decision about what they do is really up to the person who is funding the study.” What?

This is not the first time Dr. Califf’s extreme Pharma links have not blocked him from consideration for a top government post. He was up for Dr. Hamburg’s job itself, reported Reutersalong with three others. At the time, some medical voices asked how someone who helps drug companies market their products could possibly be considered as the nation’s chief watchdog over unsafe medications.

Industry conflicts at the FDA cost lives. Recently Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and David Vitter (R-La.) questioned whether the FDA’s approval last year of the synthetic opioid Zohydro stemmed from pay-to-play meetings with Big Pharma who allegedly shelled out thousands to meet with regulators. Big Pharma’s hand in the opioid epidemic which causes 17,000 overdose deaths a year in the U.S. is well documented and egregious.

Commissioner Hamburg’s appointment of Dr. Califf amounts to a sad legacy. It also suggests the FDA is no longer even making a pretense at policing industry/government conflicts of interest.

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewable of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail