US Sen. Manchin asks for FDA investigation of ‘pay to play’ - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

US Sen. Manchin asks for FDA investigation of ‘pay to play’ allegations

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U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is taking allegations of a "pay to play" agreement between the Food and Drug Administration and the pharmaceutical industry seriously.

Manchin sent a letter to the commissioner of the FDA informing the administration he will be calling for a full investigation into the allegations.

The Washington Post reported this week that private companies paid as much as $25,000 to participate in FDA advisory panel discussions on federal regulations for prescription painkillers, which Manchin says would be a direct conflict of interest.

"If these allegations are true, they explain why it has taken the FDA almost a year to reach a decision to reschedule hydrocodone even after their own expert advisory panel recommended it," Manchin said. "It is a shame that some of these companies were able to influence the FDA's decision with a $25,000 contribution, while West Virginia families are destroyed by the addiction these pills cause."

In Manchin's letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, he said he has been urging the FDA to reschedule hydrocodone combination drugs from Schedule III to Schedule II drugs, and it has been four years since the second petition requesting that the FDA and the Drug Enforcement Administration evaluate the proper scheduling of hydrocodone combination drugs.

"Even more concerning, it has been over eight months since I testified at the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee where the FDA's own advisory panel, consisting of leading scientists and researchers in the field, overwhelmingly voted to recommend rescheduling hydrocodone combination drugs," Manchin wrote in his letter. "These press reports raise troubling questions about the FDA's delay in issuing a recommendation regarding this petition.

"I truly hope that the FDA is not allowing their relationship with the pharmaceutical industry to influence their duty to protect the American public."