The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rejected a request by Philip Morris USA to remove four members of the agency's tobacco advisory panel, the Associated Press reported April 29.
The tobacco company claimed that committee chairman Jonathan Samet, director of the University of Southern California's Institute for Global Health and former director of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at Johns Hopkins University, and three other panel members should be disqualified for conflicts of interest. The firm said they have financial conflicts stemming from service as paid experts in lawsuits against tobacco companies.
Denise Keane, a lawyer for Philip Morris parent company Altria, said the panel members had “disqualifying conflicts and biases arising from their active and zealous participation” in lawsuits “designed to destroy the tobacco industry.”
The FDA denied the request, saying it had followed the law and federal procedures to create a committee with a “balanced composition of expertise to handle the many complex tobacco related issues it will face.”
Philip Morris was the only major tobacco company to endorse legislation giving the FDA regulatory power over the industry, which was signed into law last year.