Home > Transparency Posts > For Further Discussion — Comment from the Public About Transparency

For Further Discussion — Comment from the Public About Transparency

The Transparency Task Force is trying something new. Every once in a while, we will post a comment we have received on this main page. The Task Force would like to hear from more people about the views expressed in these comments. These comments will be from a diverse group of stakeholders and each comment will present a view about transparency at FDA. We will ask the author before reposting the comment here.

The views and opinions expressed in these comments are those of the authors only and should not be regarded as those of the Transparency Task Force or FDA. The comments are posted by the Transparency Task Force simply to facilitate discussion.

The first posting is from Jeffrey Francer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is highly supportive of the FDA’s transparency initiative, because transparency fosters accountability. It is important to acknowledge that the FDA is already one of the most transparent public health agencies in the world. It is hard to imagine any other similar government agency that provides on its web page all of its: approval letters, warning letters, advisory committee briefing materials, summary bases of approval, internal standard operating procedures, guidance documents, regulations, citizen petitions, as well as product-specific details on risk management programs and emerging safety information.

That said, the FDA’s mission requires that we make sure that the agency is communicating to healthcare professionals and the public as effectively as possible. PhRMA believes that the FDA can do even more to explain its approval decisions and other important regulatory actions to healthcare professionals and to patients. Put simply, FDA should make it obvious, to those who are interested, how scientific data leads to its approval decisions.

At the same time, it is critical to balance increased transparency with the need to encourage biopharmaceutical manufacturers to develop important medical advances in a competitive manner. Simply put, increased disclosure requirements that fail to protect innovative research and development investments will harm, rather than help improve, the public health. PhRMA looks forward to continuing the dialog begun by the FDA’s Transparency Task Force at its public meeting last week

  1. TSC
    July 18, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the guest post by the assistant general counsel of the PhRMA Jeffry Francer raising important issues of accountability. Francer’s post is compiled from the verbatim excerpts from his testimony at the FDA Transparency meeting; his full testimony can be foundat http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/ContentViewer?objectId=09000064809e7abb&disposition=attachment&contentType=pdf on p 12-14.
    In support of the PhRMA’s stand that “FDA should make it obvious, to those who are interested, how scientific data leads to its approval decisions”, I would like to suggest the following steps that could enhance transparency, benefit the industry, public and investors, and improve FDA’s image.
    1. Accompany any FDA decision taken contrary to its advisory panel recommendation by timely releasing (within 1 month) the full FDA expert analysis and its internal documents explaining why such decision was taken.
    2. For any label change, make the supporting internal analysis by the FDA experts publicly available via Drigs@FDA page in a timely manner (within 1 month).
    3. For any public health advisory, make the supporting internal analysis by the FDA experts publicly available and linked directly from the advisory page in a timely manner (ideally, immediately).
    4. Make public every “complete response letter” the same day as the company-sponsor receives it. ( “Complete response letter” is an official letter from the FDA to the company-sponsor of the drug requesting additional information, trials and explaining reasons for non-approval.) The practice of keeping such letters confidential gives unfair advantage to the insiders over the outside stockholders and creates significant potential for securities fraud.
    5. Notify the sponsoring companies, public and investors about the reasons for the delays on applications filed under PDUFA and the estimated new date of their review completion. This can be done via a special PDUFA-updates web page. The reasons for the delay could be kept general to preserve commercial secrets, for example, “large volume of data requires additional time”, “toxicology analysis requires additional time”, “GMP submission requires additional documentation” etc.

    • Alvin
      June 9, 2014 at 3:13 am

      Transparency is one of the things President Obama promised and its what he wants. It’s what we want to. It’s good all around.

  2. Carrie Eller
    July 27, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    The FDA should do more to communicate with the public and the clinical trial researchers and doctors in practice about the status of approval for life saving drugs. My father has mucusal melanoma and the melanoma has begun to spread. The cancer has already been treated with chemotherapy & radiation at premier cancer research institutions in the US. It is possible to continue with these treatments, but a new drug waiting for approval is PDL1.
    There had been rumors that the drug was expected to be released this summer, but there is no word on when it will be released & there is no information on the FDA website as to where it is in the approval process.
    My Dad just celebrated his 57th birthday yesterday. He has his first grandchild on the way and my sister-in-law is due on Christmas. Dad’s cancer is very aggressive and I pray everyday that he will get to enjoy time with his grandchild and be there for when the time comes that I have a child.
    The FDA should be more transparent with the approval process. The FDA should be accountable for delays just as any private organization works. My family runs a construction business and they have to be accountable for when a project is delayed or costs run over budget. The government should be accountable as well for when projects are delayed and transparent with the taxpayers who fund their role in our society.
    As the FDA, you should be held responsible for getting lifesaving drugs into the public and providing documentation on where a drug is in the approval pipeline. If there is a hold up, there should be a verifiable & justified reason and no reason not to be transparent with the public. Otherwise, it just seems like you are trying to obscure your inefficiencies from the taxpayers.
    Also, there are other potentially lifesaving drugs that my Dad could be enrolling in their clinical trials…if he had a different kind of melanoma. Because he has mucusal melanoma, no one will accept him into their clinical trials for the very reason that he would be at risk of skewing their precious data. I’ve taken statistics and marketing research classes – I know how you can skew results based on your “sample.” I cannot believe how these clinical researchers can deny someone even a chance to respond to their treatment. How is that ethical & how can you allow this? There should be exceptions that allow researchers to enroll “special” cases where it is well documented that this person is held outside of their sample prior to the patient starting treatment, but for the purpose of giving them a shot again at life. Why are we doing all of this research if not to save people’s lives?
    Please, please open PDL1 up to the public or approve for the next phase of clinical trials or whatever needs to happen for it to be an available treatment. You can buy it online for lab testing on rats. How absurd is that? I can google PDL1 and find several sites to order from for rats, but it is not available as a drug to save Dad’s life.
    Anyway, I highly doubt you will take any action or even post my comment, but out of desperation for my fathers life, I have to reach out and hope that somehow a process will change and someone else will not have to go through this unbelievable heartache.

  3. Dr. Andrew Langston, etal
    August 13, 2009 at 11:00 am

    What reforms have been instituted to mitigate retaliatory actions against FDA employees?
    I commend the FDA scientists; particularly the whistleblowers and authors of the August 31, 2006, memorandum identified in the Project for Government Oversight February 2009 report, as Appendix A, for courageously sounding the alarm on what appears to be a very serious problem in CDRH. They paid a significant price for reform in CDRH. Are there any efforts to restore their reputation?
    Furthermore, talented scientists were driven out of CDRH, including the Center’s former GLP expert, for investigating criminal activity (fraud and research misconduct) in applications. Their investigations raised serious questions about the scientific integrity of the FDA medical device approval process. Dr. Marcarelli, Mr. Timothy Ulatowski, and Dr. Donna Bea Tillman know who they are.
    We look forward to return of these dedicated public servants. CDRH needs all of its talented employees to ensure that the medical devices Americans depend on are safe and effective.

  4. Mike Jones
    December 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    This is very interesting to me as I am getting my Education in Australia and in one of my classes we are discussing these topics about the FDA scientist and transparency

  5. jordan retro v
    May 14, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    This is very interesting to me as I am getting my Education in Australia and in one of my classes we are discussing these topics about the FDA scientist and transparency

  6. October 17, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Transparency doesn’t just foster accountability but it helps grow trust between all parties.

  7. January 4, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Transparency goes beyond that putting all facts on the table, there are so many ‘loopholes’ in the FDA regulations that some more action will be needed.

  8. January 19, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Transparency is one of the things President Obama promised and its what he wants. It’s what we want to. It’s good all around.

  9. May 6, 2011 at 5:52 am

    I agree there needs to be more Transparency. THe problem is there is to much big money in the system. The rich people can pay to pass anything through especially when they make billions off of us hard working individuals

  10. September 16, 2011 at 8:48 am

    People like myths and gossips. So, transparency is really needed in order to avoid confusion and to align and engage everyone for achieving our goals!

  11. Advance Technology Tools
    June 25, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Well all we need transparency in all the fields of latest updates in tech era, we are expecting the latest news coming about it, thanks!

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