Tuesday, April 19, 2016

From the NYT: Study Questions Risk of S.E.C. Revolving Door

Maybe there are advantages to it. This is a contrarian's take on the relationship between the public and private sector.

- Click here for it.

The revolving door has long been the focus of government watchdogs here, a symbolic portal that business executives and lawyers pass through on their way to government posts and back again to the private sector. There, the thinking goes, they use their influence with former colleagues to reap benefits for themselves and their companies.

But despite plenty of anecdotal accusations of influence-peddling, there has been relatively little empirical evidence of how the practice truly affects government regulation and law enforcement.

Now, a group of accounting professors has produced a study showing that the revolving door actually toughens enforcement results at the
Securities and Exchange Commission — the opposite of what government critics have long maintained.

But critics are still largely skeptical of the relationship. Here is a more common critique:

The FDA ‘Revolving Door’ Fosters Conflicts on Advisory Panels.

Does the FDA have an unfair revolving door for some experts who serve on its advisory panels?

A consumer advocacy group charges the agency allows some experts who serve on its advisory panels to also make presentations at other meetings of these same panels on behalf of drug makers. By allowing some people to wear different hats within a short amount of time, the advocacy group charges the FDA creates the potential for bias to creep into the proceedings.

As an example, Public Citizen cites a meeting this past March 27 of the FDA’s Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee, which was held to review an application for a
Novartis drug called serelaxin to treat acute heart failure. And Milton Packer, who chairs the department of clinical sciences at UT Southwestern, appeared as a paid speaker on behalf of Novartis.

In his opening remarks, Packer disclosed that Novartis paid for his time and travel, according to the advocacy group. But because he is also considered to be a ‘special government employee,’ which is how advisory panel members are classified, he obtained permission from the FDA to participate as a paid speaker for Novartis (
see page 31 here).

However, Packer served as a temporary voting member of the same FDA advisory committee less than two months earlier. Moreover, Public Citizen says this was the sixth time, since Packer first presided as chair of this committee in 1997, that he had “spoken on behalf of and/or served as a (presumably) paid consultant” to drug makers whose meds were being reviewed at those meetings.

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