U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon has allowed a lawsuit seeking an injunction by R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard Tobacco to proceed against the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee. It alleges a conflict of interest on the scientific panel responsible for regulating tobacco products.
FDA officials asked Judge Leon to deny the request but the judge rebuffed their claim, noting in his ruling “the limited number of viewpoints on these issues” and “the scientific as opposed to the political nature of those viewpoints, and the distinct responsibilities of the committee.”
Drug Companies Conflicts
At issue is the membership of the Center for Tobacco Products’ Tobacco Science Advisory Committee (TPSAC). TPSAC was created after passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. TPSAC has eight member, three of whom allegedly present a conflict of interest with pharmaceutical companies that could benefit from anti-smoking regulations.
Federal law says FACA members may not have an interest in activities in which the committee is involved. This includes stock holdings or contracts with companies that may be affected by the committee’s recommendations. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has refused to remove these three members after repeated requests from industry and government ethics groups to do so. Read more...