An investigation into the financial connections between medical device companies and FDA advisory committees, which make recommendations on the approval and regulation of these pharmaceutical products, has called into question the ability of these doctors to make unbiased decisions in advising the country’s top public health and safety agency. Information uncovered by The Wall Street Journal shows that one-third of the advisors on the FDA’s cardiology, orthopedics, and gynecology device committees from 2012-2014 received payment from a medical device company. In 2014 alone, 26% of panelists received $100,000 or more in value from these product manufacturers, while the FDA disclosed just 1% of these corporate connections to the public.
The WSJ research showed that an Atlanta cardiologist, who received at least $100,000 in consulting fees over five years, later served on a medical device panel for a product made by one of the companies for which he consulted. Another doctor, who sat on an FDA panel advising on devices manufactured by Medtronic, received between $76,600 and $130,600 from that same company for consulting fees, travel expenses, and other amenities.
According to the WSJ, “Nearly 10% of the FDA advisors receiving something of value from the specific company whose product they were evaluating,” as such, critics claim that the financial ties associated with doctors serving on these FDA advisory committees call into question the impartiality of these panels in reviewing the safety of medical devices.