FDA scientists see improved integrity, but complaints of interference still common

A few years ago, a survey of FDA scientists found widespread unhappiness with the political and corporate interference they routinely witnessed at the agency. And while a new survey found a general consensus that conditions had improved, a significant minority still feels that there's too much Congressional and corporate meddling with the FDA's scientific work.

The Union of Concerned Scientists polled the opinions of close to a thousand scientists for this latest survey, taken three years into the Obama administration. And while a majority felt the agency was moving in the right direction (652) and felt they could rely on their supervisor to back them up when needed (582), close to a third felt they had been improperly interfered with in the past year and roughly one in four reported instances of Congressional and corporate interference with the agency's mission of protecting the public health. The same number felt too intimidated to speak out, only a slight decrease from their 2006 survey.

"It used to be that administrations would come and go and we could go about the business of protecting the public using scientific and legal principles," wrote one scientist, according to the Union. "Now the lawyers and politicians seem to run the show and think they know better."

"Despite the Obama administration's improvements in scientific integrity, political and corporate influence over the FDA's scientific work persist," said Francesca Grifo, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Scientific Integrity Program. "When inappropriate influence clouds scientific judgment at the FDA, public health and safety suffer."

- here's the press release

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