Last December, researchers involved with studying the use of antidepressants in children faced questions as federal regulators looked into evidence that the drugs increased suicide risks. The researchers tried "for months to gather all the test data," writes Barry Meier, but "could get only pieces of that information. Some drug companies refused to turn over data to the group, even though these researchers had helped come up with it. ...
"A researcher who publicly questioned the safety of Pfizer Inc.'s painkiller Bextra was removed from a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel that will review it and similar products next year," reported the Wall Street Journal.
Women seeking abortions in Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and Kansas are told that "abortion can increase their risk of breast cancer," and "legislation to require such notification has been introduced in 14 other states." But "a panel of scientists convened by the National Cancer Institute reviewed available data and concluded there is no link.
The American Chemistry Council is giving the Environmental Protection Agency $2 million for a study to explore the impact of pesticides and household chemicals on young children. The trade association, which represents nearly 150 chemical and plastics manufacturers and has a $100 million budget, spent more than $2 million on lobbying in 2003.
At a conference on sugar and other sweeteners, medicine and epidemiology professor Adam Drewnowski challenged the World Health Organization's characterization of soft drinks as "energy-dense foods." He said that soft drinks' "high water content gives them the energy density of fresh carrots." Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust, a think tank on food issues, organized the conference, which was sponsored by Coca-Cola's
"For nearly four years, and with rising intensity, scientists in and out of government have criticized the Bush administration, saying it has selected or suppressed research findings to suit preset policies, skewed advisory panels or ignored unwelcome advice, and quashed discussion within federal research agencies," reports Andrew Revkin. The clash has been especially intense and prolonged regarding the issue of global warming, where "scientists say that objective and relevant information is ignored or distorted in service of pre-established policy goals.
The controversial head of an obscure agency in the White House is a "lightening rod" for criticism of Bush administration regulatory actions. John D. Graham runs the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and is "known as a stickler for the bottom line," the Seattle Times' Alex Fryer writes. "Through rigorous analysis, Graham wants to create 'smart' regulation that protects the environment at lower cost. But it is a process fraught with subjectivity.
"The Data Quality Act -- written by an industry lobbyist and slipped into a giant appropriations bill in 2000 without congressional discussion or debate -- is just two sentences directing the [White House Office of Management and Budget] to ensure that all information disseminated by the federal government is reliable.
Gary Frazer, the Interior Department's "senior career official in the Endangered Species Office, which has produced several scientific findings angering his political superiors in the Fish and Wildlife Service, was reassigned last week to a newly created post as his division's liaison to the United States Geological Survey." Frazer's perhaps least admiring superior, Julie MacDonald,