(STUDY) More than 50% of CDC employees end up working for Pharma

The following is from The Vaccine Reaction.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) and Harvard University and published in the journal Health Affairs found that 54 percent of the staff members, who were employed at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and left the federal health agency during 2004-2020, went on to work for the pharmaceutical industry.

According to the study:

Exiting staff went to not only biopharmaceutical and device manufacturers, but also health insurers, information and communication technology firms, real estate firms with medical property portfolios, and consulting firms.

The study researchers, Genevieve Kanter, PhD and Daniel Carpenter, PhD, stated that the “high rates of exit” to pharmaceutical companies suggests that CDC employees, as well as employees of other operating divisions of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), are highly valued and make them attractive hires for pharmaceutical companies, and that this value could “derive from policy expertise, extended professional networks, or prestige.”

But Drs. Kanter and Carpenter also pointed out that there is concern that some of the value of people who used to work for the CDC may come from the perceived “potential influence” that these hires can “exert on former colleagues post-departure, or from favorable actions taken before departure, that could compromise agency decision making.

Current Laws and Regulations Have Little Impact on CDC/Pharma Conflicts of Interest

Current federal laws and regulations, which were supposed to reduce conflicts of interest that arise from the revolving door between the CDC employess and pharma, do not appear to adequately address the “pre- and post-departure risks.”

Study authors Kanter and Carpenter cited 18 U.S. Code Section 207, which imposes a one- to two-year “cooling-off period” on former officials within the executive branch of the federal government and prohibits them from lobbying the government on behalf of private organizations.

Kanter said that the cooling off period laws “do not cover much lobbying related to federal agency decision making, like regulations and drug authorizations, so they don’t necessarily deter that behavior.”  She added:

The direction one might go is to expand the cooling off laws. But that’s a blunt instrument for a lot of subtle things that might be going on in terms of the effects of the revolving door.

Kanter and Carpenter cautioned that laws restricting post-departure activities “tend to be narrowly written” and that they “focus primarily on the former employee’s activities as a representative of private parties vis-à-vis the government.”

This leaves open opportunities for federal health officials to influence decisions and policy prior to leaving the CDC in anticipation of a job within Pharma, as well as to influence decisions and policy post departure via personal relationships and professional contacts at the agency.

As the study noted:

Congenial relationships developed at one’s former employment, whether at a private firm or at a government agency, do not vanish when one changes jobs and sectors. These prior relationships can facilitate informal interactions and kindle emotional ties, exerting soft influence on agency decision making.

Link to article here.

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