FDA's Flack Attack

Several members of Congress are asking about conflicts of interest at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after an FDA spokesman, who previously worked as a public relations representative for pharmaceutical companies, used agency email to attack the research of an independent scientist. Douglas Arbesfeld, a senior communications consultant to the FDA, sent an email to reporters attacking Dr. Steven Nissen, who recently co-authored a study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggesting that the diabetes drug Avandia may increase the risk of heart attacks. The e-mail, titled "What are St. Steven's feet made of? Clay, perhaps?," included a link to an anonymous blog accusing Nissen of playing favorites among drug companies.