So says Jim Dickinson, editor of FDAWebview, an industry newsletter that closely follows enforcement issues at the agency. After reviewing the deregulatory shifts at the Food and Drug Administration since the Carter administration, he writes:
It has taken almost a generation, but by now, the pro-industry infiltration of FDA’s culture is firmly entrenched. Not only is collaboration in product reviews officially encouraged, but good relationships across the regulatory fence hold the prospect of a possible future career in a well-paid industry job – a connection that is less likely to be publicly noticed in news media that now have to line up for information that has been filtered through agency press offices. The arm’s-length relationship that formerly ruled every contact between agency and industry has become a fading memory.
He says the shift in culture accelerated after the 1992 passage of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, which made the agency dependent on industry funding. He concludes there’s nothing that Margaret Hamburg, the new commissioner, and Joshua Sharfstein, her deputy, can do about it. Quoting a former chief of enforcement, he writes:
User fees at FDA are the primary villain, because they “allowed the industry to dictate the changes at the FDA in programs, procedures and practices. It will be impossible for the Obama administration to reverse the trend because as long as the user fees are in place the industry has the upper hand.”
Radical stuff from an unexpected source.