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Francesca Grifo

About the author: Francesca Grifo is an expert on political interference in science and practices to ensure transparency and integrity at the intersection of science and policy. In addition, Dr. Grifo has more than 30 years of experience in environmental issues including biodiversity conservation, environmental education and global change and human health. She holds a Ph.D. in botany. Subscribe to Francesca's posts

How Conflicted Experts Can Sway FDA Drug Approval Decisions: A Case Study on Yaz

Experts on FDA advisory panels with financial conflicts of interest can influence the approval of a drug in multiple ways, not only by voting to approve a drug but also by dominating the discussion and pressuring other panelists. In the case of the popular contraceptive drug Yaz, four scientists with financial conflicts of interest were enough to push the vote in favor of the drug, with significant consequences for some women. Read More

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As Scientific Integrity Policies Roll In, What Comes Next?

Today is the deadline for federal agencies and departments to publicly announce final or “final draft” policies designed to prevent political and corporate interference in the science behind government decision-making. The results, as expected, are all over the board. We’re keeping track here. Read More

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Five Reasons Congress Should Support Strong Conflict-of-Interest Standards at FDA

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we have been blogging quite a bit recently about the FDA. This corresponds to legislation that would determine how the FDA approves and monitors drugs and medical devices. But why have we been so focused on reducing the number of FDA advisory panel members who have financial conflicts-of-interest? Read More

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Where the FDA Turns When It Needs Scientific Advice

While there’s a wealth of scientific expertise inside the FDA and other federal scientific agencies, FDA’s scientific staff often rely on the advice of experts outside the agency to help them decide whether to approve a new prescription drug or medical device, or to recall a product or issue stronger warning labels when there are safety problems. Read More

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Vioxx shows what happens when the drug safety system breaks down

In a previous blog post, I explained the FDA’s complex process for approving drugs and medical devices. However, in many cases, pressure from commercial interests has broken down this process. The approval and subsequent recall of Vioxx took its toll on thousands of Americans, including my own father.

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How the FDA Drug Approval Process Works

Earlier this week, my colleague Michael gave some general background on the Food and Drug Administration and what Congress has to do this year to ensure that the agency can continue to ensure the safety and efficacy of prescription drugs and medical devices. Read More

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Survey: Despite Progress, FDA Scientists Feel Political and Industry Pressure

UCS released a survey of 997 FDA scientists this morning which found that while FDA leaders are working hard to boost scientific integrity at the agency, persistent interference by special interests continues to hinder scientists’ work.  The FDA responded quickly and reasonably, stressing its successes while acknowledging that improvements can and should be made. National Public Radio science reporter Nell Greenfieldboyce was first out of the gate with a quick summary of the findings and FDA’s response. Read More

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The EPA Follows Through on Dioxin

February brought two significant pieces of good news at the EPA. The agency released its final scientific integrity policy, which was much improved over the draft it put out for public comment. And the EPA finally released a scientific assessment of dioxin, an achievement 27 years in the making. Read More

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Final EPA Scientific Integrity Policy Benefited Greatly from Public Input — and Now the Really Hard Work Begins

Under Administrator Lisa Jackson’s tenure, the EPA has worked to restore public trust in the agency. On her first day, she issued a “fishbowl” memo that committed the agency to three core values: scientific integrity, transparency, and the rule of law. This week, the EPA released its long-awaited scientific integrity policy and, as with other agencies, there is significant improvement over the first draft. Read More

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On Toxic Dioxin, Will the EPA Fold or Stand Tall?

In August 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency committed to releasing a scientific assessment of the health hazards of chemical dioxins by the end of January 2012. The assessment process has dragged on for nearly three decades—and consistent with what has now become a pattern, the industries that are most responsible for dioxin releases are pushing for yet another delay. Read More

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