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Round and Round

The revolving door in Washington extends beyond lawmakers to regulators, Stat News reports.

A study out in BMJ this week from Oregon Health and Science University's Jeffrey Bien and Vinay Prasad identified people who served as hematology-oncology medical reviewers for the US Food and Drug Administration between 2001 and 2010. They then looked to see where these reviewers now work. While nearly half are still at FDA, slightly more than a quarter are now employed by or are consulting for biopharmaceutical companies. Bien and Prasad write that they find this "concerning."

"The transition from regulator to advising companies seems logical, but it raises concern as to whether regulators indefatigably act in the public interest," they add.

At Stat News, Prasad says he wonders whether this prospect of future employment at biopharmaceutical companies might color reviewers' decisions. "If you know a major post-employment opportunity is on the other side of the table, you give them the benefit of the doubt," he says. 

Jason Young, an FDA spokesperson, tells Stat News that the agency has strict rules in place to ensure regulators are working in the public interest. In addition, he notes that former employees are subject to confidentiality rules and other restrictions.