Conflicts of interest at the FDA...again
Last Tuesday, under fire from Congress and consumer groups, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration promised to investigate ties between a key science advisor and business interests maneuvering to avert a federal ban on bisphenol A (BPA), a ubiquitous toxic plastics chemical, in baby bottles, food packaging and medical devices. The very next morning, however, the FDA announced that an advisory board meeting on the BPA issue would go forward on Oct. 31, as previously scheduled. And the scientist whose apparent conflict of interest is at issue -- Martin Philbert, a University of Michigan toxicologist â€“ remains chair of the two-man panel and is poised to play a pivotal role in the agencyâ€™s upcoming decision on BPA. Federal ethics inquiries take months and sometimes years. So it seems the FDA intends to investigate Philbertâ€™s apparent conflict of interest after he renders his advice on BPA â€“ a synthetic estrogen and plastics component whose manufacture generates global annual revenues estimated at $6 billion.