10 doctors on FDA panel reviewing Abbott heart device had financial ties with company

The following is from KFF Health News.

When the FDA recently convened a committee of advisers to assess a cardiac device made by Abbott, the agency didn’t disclose that most of them had received payments from the company or conducted research it had funded — information readily available in a federal database.

One member of the FDA advisory committee was linked to hundreds of payments from Abbott totaling almost $200,000, according to a database maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Another was connected to 100 payments totaling about $100,000 and conducted research supported by about $50,000 from Abbott.

A third member of the committee worked on research supported by more than $180,000 from the company.

The government database, called “Open Payments,” records financial relationships between doctors and certain other health care providers and the makers of drugs and medical devices.

KFF Health News found records of Abbott payments associated with 10 of the 14 voting members of the FDA advisory panel, which was weighing clinical evidence for a heart device called TriClip G4 System.

The money, paid from 2016 through 2022 — the most recent year for which the database shows payments — adds up to about $650,000.

The panel voted almost unanimously that the benefits of the device outweigh its risks. Abbott announced on April 2 that the FDA had approved TriClip, which is designed to treat leakage from the heart’s tricuspid valve.

The Abbott payments illustrate the reach of medical industry money and the limits of transparency at the FDA.

They also shed light on how the agency weighs relationships between people who serve on its advisory panels and the makers of drugs and medical devices that those committees review as part of the regulatory approval process.

The payments do not reflect wrongdoing on the part of the agency, its outside experts, or the device manufacturer. The database does not show that any of the payments were related directly to the TriClip device.

But some familiar with the process, including people who have served on FDA advisory committees, said the payments should have been disclosed at the Feb. 13 meeting — if not as a regulatory requirement, then in the interest of transparency, because the money might call into question committee members’ objectivity.

“This is a problem,” Joel Perlmutter, a former FDA advisory committee member and a professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said by email. “They should or must disclose this due to bias.”

At the public meeting to consider the TriClip device, an FDA official announced that committee members had been screened for potential financial conflicts of interest and found in compliance with government requirements.

FDA spokesperson Audra Harrison said by email that the agency doesn’t comment on matters related to individual advisory committee members.

“The FDA followed all appropriate procedures and regulations in vetting these panel members and stands firmly by the integrity of the disclosure and vetting processes in place,” she said. “This includes ensuring advisory committee members do not have, or have the appearance of, a conflict of interest.”

Abbott “has no influence over who is selected to participate in FDA advisory committees,” a spokesperson for the company, Brent Tippen, said in a statement.

Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research, a think tank, said the FDA shouldn’t have allowed recipients of funding from Abbott in recent years to sit in judgment of the Abbott product. The agency takes too narrow a view of what should be disqualifying, she said.

Link to article here.

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3 thoughts on “10 doctors on FDA panel reviewing Abbott heart device had financial ties with company”

  1. I cannot believe how everyone is so corrupt these days. I do not mean this to sound political but it seems a truth that ever since Biden took office and the public knows how much he and his son have gotten away with they figure they can do as they please as well. This has become a very sad situation.

  2. Conflict of interest from the FDA is the least surprising news since gambling was discovered at Rick’s. I worked in regulated medical devices for the better part of 17 years, ending almost 30 years ago. It was prevalent THEN. Neither the FDA or the CDC gives a rat’s arse if anyone knows about this. Given their continued success and perpetual funding, nor should they.

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