Frequent Flying Regulators

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy that precludes employees from accepting trips paid for by companies the agency regulates is easily side-stepped. Alexander Cohen reports that non-profit groups that "draw their members, their boards and even some of their funding from medical and pharmaceutical-related companies" paid for roughly one-third of the 3,600 sponsored trips received by hundreds of FDA employees since 1999. "The sponsor of the most trips was the Drug Information Association, which footed the bill for more than 600 trips taken by FDA employees," Cohen reports. Employees of The Weinberg Group, a PR company which boasts that it helps to defend clients "products in the courts and the media", have close ties to the DIA. One of its employees delivered a presentation to last years DIA annual meeting titled "FDA Enforcement: What You Need to Know to Avoid or Respond to the FDA."