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Members of FDA Avandia panel paid by drugmaker, rival

A member of the FDA advisory panel who cast a vote in favor of keeping the diabetes drug Avandia on the market with no restrictions was paid more than $15,000 by the maker of the drug as an adviser. Meanwhile, another panelist who voted to pull the drug from the market has worked as a consultant for the company that makes a rival diabetes drug.

David Capuzzi was paid $14,750 by GlaxoSmithKline to promote the company’s heart drug Lovaza, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. He was also paid $750 by the company to serve as a consultant on an advisory board on Avandia, the Journal reports. Capuzzi said that he disclosed his relationship with the company to the FDA.

Capuzzi was part of a 33-member advisory panel which ultimately voted last week in favor of urging the FDA to impose stronger warnings on Avandia labeling and possible restrictions to its sale based on medical reports linking the drug to increased risk of heart attack and other health problems.

A significant number of panelists voted in favor of removing the controversial diabetes drug Avandia from the market altogether. According to another Journal report, one panelist voting in favor if recalling the drug – Abraham Thomas – disclosed yesterday that he has served as a paid speaker for the maker of a rival diabetes drug Actos. Thomas said he also disclose the payments to the FDA.

The FDA issued a statement saying they would examine any relationship between panel members and drug companies internally. “If any member of the advisory committee is found to have a conflict of interest, FDA can consider that information as we make our final decision on the status of the drug,” the statement said.

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