FDA Revolving Door Keeps on Twirling.

I received a phone call a few weeks ago from a very determined Levaquin advocate. She was very upset. She told me that Dr. Karen Weiss has left the FDA to go work for Johnson & Johnson, the company that markets Levaquin. The Levaquin advocate said she was informed of this from a doctor who has a sister that is employed by Johnson & Johnson. Dr. Weiss is the Program Director for the US Food and Drug Administration’s Safe Use Initiative in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. The program’s mission is to reduce preventable harm from medications, which is a significant public health problem. 

I called the Food & Drug Administration to verify the employment status of Dr. Weiss. I was told that Dr. Karen Weiss is not in the FDA global employment directory. I later contacted Johnson & Johnson and was informed that there is in fact a Dr. Karen Weiss employed at J&J.   

I had a one hour meeting with Dr. Karen Weiss and a few other doctors regarding fluoroquinolone toxicity on July 13th, 2010. Dr. Weiss was given many medical articles on the severe and long term injuries from this class of antibiotics. Other fluoroquinolone victims have provided her with extensive documentation on this issue as well. Dr. Weiss was given information on reducing preventable harm from Levaquin and fluoroquinolones in general. I feel that Dr. Weiss chose to look the other way on this important health problem.

FDA officials are frequently rewarded with lucrative jobs at the very companies they are supposed to regulate. They just need to keep industry happy. This is an insidious conflict of interest. I called the Food and Drug Administration last week inquiring if this was an FDA ethics policy violation. I was told that there is a certain amount of time that bars a Food and Drug Administration employee from moving to industry and vice versa. The FDA employee wasn’t sure about the exact number of years one has to remove themselves from employment. The Food and Drug Administration needs to properly enforce this revolving door problem. The quality of regulation and oversight is severely compromised resulting in further promotion of unsafe drugs.  



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