CDC Vaccine Advisors Were Cozy with Medical Industry, Report Says

Advisors on flu and <"">cervical cancer vaccines for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have not being screened for financial conflicts as well as they could be, according to an article in The New York Times.

The financial relationships between the medical industry and doctors have caused controversy in recent years. Critics have long held that such relationships create conflicts-of-interest, and could unduly influence everything from research findings to prescribing practices. Over the past several years, states, medical schools, medical societies and other entities have passed regulations requiring doctors to disclose their financial relationships with drug and device makers, and some have even tried to curb the gifts and other perks doctors can receive from medical firms.

According to The New York Times, while Congress tightened rules for the Food & Drug Administration after conflicts were found among members of its advisory panels, little attention has been paid to the CDC. That apparently was a mistake.

According to the Times, a report compiled by Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, found that experts who served on CDC flu and cervical cancer vaccine advisory panels in 2007 had potential conflicts that were never resolved. Many of the advisors identified in the report “either a job or a grant from a company or other entity whose interests were affected by the committees’ discussions, and a considerable number also owned stock in such companies,” the Times said.

According to the report:

• 64 percent of the advisers had potential conflicts of interest that were never identified or were left unresolved by the centers.

• 13 percent failed to have an appropriate conflicts form on file at the agency at all, which should have barred their participation in the meetings entirely

• 3 percent voted on matters that ethics officers had already barred them from considering.

In a response to the Times, the CDC said it had already tightened its conflicts of interest process since the time period covered by the report.

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