FDA calls on IG to probe Avandia panel conflict

The FDA is looking to higher-ups for help sorting out a potential conflict of interest on the recent Avandia advisory panel. After news emerged last week that one panelist, endocrinologist David Capuzzi, had been paid to speak on behalf of a GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) product, agency officials asked Health and Human Services investigators to look into the situation.

Capuzzi tells the Wall Street Journal that he had served as a paid speaker for GSK, but not on behalf of Avandia. It's unclear what Capuzzi told the FDA about that financial relationship. The company had said Capuzzi spoke about Lovaza, a drug to lower triglycerides, to doctors earlier this year and a few years previously, and received more than $14,000. But now GSK is saying Capuzzi once served on an advisory board on Avandia and received $750, the WSJ reports.

The agency had supposedly vetted all of the Avandia panelists very carefully for potential conflicts, knowing that the Avandia vote was likely to be contentious. Complicating matters, Capuzzi was one of only three panelists who voted to leave the controversial diabetes drug on the market with no additional warnings or restrictions.

After the WSJ report, the FDA launched an internal investigation. And now, it's referring its findings to the HHS Office of Inspector General. The FDA says it can't by law disclose just what Capuzzi told the agency about his relationship with GSK.

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