Interim FDA Commissioner Frank Torti (photo) wants his employees to zip their lips. According to In Vivo, Torti sent out a memo last Friday telling FDAers that they need to keep proprietary information to themselves. Trade secrets, confidential commercial information, personal privacy data, law enforcement info and privileged intra-agency and inter-agency communications such as email, memos and letters--they all have to be kept within the FDA cone of silence, Torti wrote.
Of course, the FDA is committed to "the principles of open government," the memo states (as quoted by In Vivo). But FDA employees have to make sure the agency keeps up with "its obligations to keep certain information in its possession confidential." Given the long list of to-be-kept-secret-information, it sounds to us like "certain information" really means "99.5 percent of our information."
You'll recall that the FDA has found itself red-faced a few times this year already, after the media picked up on internal dissent within the device division over the approval of a certain knee device and over at CDER after an advisory committee barred a member at the last minute for "intellectual bias." Plus, FDA scientists have made headlines with a protest against what they see as a "corruption" of the approvals process, particularly for devices.
In Vivo's Ed Silverman points out one final irony: He managed to get a copy of the memo prohibiting the leakage of memos. Oh, the calamity.
- read the In Vivo post