Sep 7, 2023

Big Pharma’s Revolving Door

When the same people who run pharmaceutical companies regulate them
Big Pharma’s Revolving Door

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What’s happening: A new study reveals that over 50 percent of appointees for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and as many as 60 percent for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) eventually move to the private sector. “Such a revolving door could make government agencies more vulnerable to pro-industry bias," the study notes.

On a low level: FDA staffers, who play a critical role in the drug approval process, go on to work in the biopharmaceutical industry, oftentimes reaping large salaries from the companies whose drugs they eased through the approval process.

  • But it’s not just staffers: Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb joined the board of Pfizer less than three months after leaving his government post. Even worse, he had served on the boards of other drugmaker behemoths like GlaxoSmithKline before had was nominated to head the FDA.

Zoom out: Revolving doors go both ways. While hundreds of former congressional staffers now work for pharmaceutical companies or lobby for them, dozens of former drug industry employees get jobs on Capitol Hill. Donald Trump brought big pharma executives into the administration just as Barack Obama did before him.

Why it matters: During the pandemic, pharmaceutical companies worked hand-in-hand with government agencies to approve and mandate new vaccines at unprecedented speeds. Adequate scrutiny and study never occurred because both the drug manufacturers and the regulators have skin in the game.

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