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US scientists still wary of Gottlieb's industry ties

Pharma professionals undertake survey conducted by SAB

FDA

Almost two-thirds of US scientists believe FDA Commissioner nominee Scott Gottlieb's financial relationships with biopharma companies are a cause for concern, according to a new poll.

The wide-ranging survey of 558 FDA researchers, pharma/biotech and clinical scientists conducted by the Science Advisory Board (SAB) also found that only around one in five scientists (21%) felt that Gottlieb would lead the FDA in the interest of the public to help lower drug prices.

The findings were published after Gottlieb made a pledge to sever ties with the pharma industry - that have earned him millions of dollars over the last few years - in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee at the end of last month.

The survey also gauged how researchers view President Donald Trump's plans for the FDA - including a promise to streamline the approval process - as well as proposed budget cuts and his promises to clamp down on medicine pricing.

On the latter point, 37% of respondents overall said the pharma industry was most responsible for high drug prices although interestingly - and unsurprisingly - there was a clear divergence between FDA and industry scientists on this issue.

Almost 59% of FDA scientists felt industry was to blame, compared to 19% of pharma/biotech researchers. A third of the industry scientists felt the health insurance industry was most responsible, with 17% blaming FDA regulations and the approval process. Among the agency staffers, 13% pointed to health insurers and 10% cited FDA regulations.

More than half of respondents said the industry should not pay more in fees to make up for the cuts to the FDA budget - although more than a third of FDA scientists felt it should do so - and there was a broad agreement that proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget would diminish funding for small businesses and drug discovery, with 77% indicating that would be the case.

Among other key findings were that the majority of participants agreed that the FDA should work on data transparency - including releasing information on both approved and denied drugs - while more than half (56%) felt that the FDA's current approval process was fair and only 17% felt that that there were unnecessary procedures that should be culled.

That said, 57% agreed with President Trump's view that the FDA approval process was ‘slow and burdensome’ for new therapies and medications, but more than three-quarters did not back the notion that this could be solved by approval based on safety alone.

Article by
Phil Taylor

13th April 2017

From: Regulatory

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