FDA chief says paper misquoted him

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“I was misquoted,” asserted FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach in a Capitol Hill hearing that probed FDA transparency and public confidence in March. He was referring to widely reported characterizations of a  “locker room talk” he gave FDA reviewers of Sanofi-Aventis’ Ketek last year that linked public dissent from FDA decisions to a risk of reviewers being “traded” from the FDA’s “team.”

The entity that misquoted him, he told House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chairman Bart Stupak (D-MI), was the Newark Star Ledger in a report of von Eschenbach’s remarks at a Center for Medicine in the Public Interest event. The newspaper said he cautioned the reviewers not to dissent from FDA decisions, but von Eschenbach told the subcommittee his policy is the opposite of that.

Asked about testimony former Ketek reviewer David Ross had given the subcommittee a month earlier, that von Eschenbach’s “locker room talk” was an effort to silence dissenting employees, von Eschenbach asserted “I am adamantly in support of and committed to the protection of legal rights for every single employee with the FDA or any organization that I am associated with. And that will be unwavering on my part.”

He said he hopes to provide an environment—“a locker room, if you will—in which people with diverse points of view on an issue or a problem can come together and vigorously debate and discuss those issues.”

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