Senate bill would ease FDA conflict-of-interest rule

As long as they're publicly disclosed and "unavoidable," experts who have conflicts of interest should be allowed to serve on FDA advisory panels. That's the gist of a bill proposed by three U.S. senators.

The bill would roll back legislation that prohibits experts with financial ties to companies involved with a product area at issue from advising the regulator, reports Reuters. It would also put the FDA on par with the rest of the federal government concerning conflict-of-interest rules.

The bill was prompted by ongoing efforts involving Congress, the Institute of Medicine, the FDA and industry to speed up medical device approvals. Supporters say the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health has been "strangling innovation," according to the report, and preventing life-saving products from becoming available.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Richard Burr and Michael Bennet proposed the bill, Reuters says, and a similar proposal is expected from the House of Representatives. Klobuchar is the chair of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion. 

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