For the second time in as many years, an analysis has found that public speakers at Food and Drug Administration advisory committee meetings have notable financial conflicts, raising questions about the extent to which such ties may somehow influence the deliberations.
In the latest analysis, 25 percent of the public speakers at 15 meetings held between September 2009 and April 2017 by the Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee, which reviews opioids and other painkillers, had conflicts of interest.
It cuts both ways. I have seen “public speakers” from company B show up to criticize the product of company A that was under review by the advisory committee. The public speakers at these sessions are really quite a grab bag.
From the meetings I’ve spoken at and commented on in CNS and antibiotics, I’m surprised it’s only 25% here. More of this kind of scrutiny needs to happen, and more attention paid to patient advocacy groups, who receive millions from the drug companies as marketing arms for them.
As a frequent panelist, this comes as no surprise. It seems that most disclose that travel was paid for by the sponsor, but even if they don’t I would assume that a (insert middle class job / retiree) who travels from Iowa to speak for 5 minutes at an AdCom isn’t spending a grand or more because they love the product so much.
Furthermore, while it’s valuable to hear from actual patients, I’m sure the AdCom members (myself included) rely far more on the RCT data than on anecdotes from patients — it’s clearly a biased sample who cares enough to show up and speak.
As an AdCom member the most valuable thing is when we get to ask patients a question or two, which can help us understand side effects or how easy a product (particular medical devices) are to use.
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