FDA hears from all sides on info sharing

Air that dirty laundry, FDA. That's what folks told the agency yesterday at a task-force meeting on "transparency." Experts, doctors and consumers alike told the agency that the public deserves to know more about how FDA makes decisions that affect which meds are used and how.

Consumer advocates said the FDA should keep a hawk-like eye on clinical trials. Doctors said they want the FDA to flag safety concerns ASAP. Scientists asked the agency to tell all about dissenting scientific opinions within the agency--which have been smoothed over and hidden away in recent years. Several experts said they'd like to see the FDA release info not only on approved meds, but on those that were rejected.

Industry reps, however, asked the agency to ensure that their confidential info doesn't see the light of day. Transparency is all well and good, they said, but commercial info belongs to us.

Like much of what goes on at the FDA, this transparency push looks to be a balancing act between the interests of the public and the interests of industry--with a heavy dose of agency credibility thrown in. (Lots of testimony yesterday focused on public trust in the agency.) And as the Wall Street Journal notes, it's too soon to tell just what the "new FDA" will recommend, transparency-wise. But agency types seemed eager to listen and open to ideas from consumers and scientists. Obviously, the agency is going to be looking for that "just right" mix of telling secrets and keeping them.

- read the WSJ piece
- check out the article from Reuters