Wednesday, October 15, 2008

BPA, Biased Donor, and FDA Bad Behavior: Big Bucks for Boss of BPA Report

Well, well, well. Would you believe the chairman of the FDA's bisphenol-a advisory panel may be in cahoots, kinda, sorta, with a not unbiased big-money donor? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Dr. Martin Philbert, the FDA guy in charge of sorting out the fate of BPA also founded and co-heads the Risk Science Center at the University of Michigan. Seems Charles Gelman, a former manufacturer of medical equipment who deemed BPA "perfectly safe", donated 5 million to the Science Center (50 times the annual operating budget). Fair enough, it's a free country. But Philbert, on the other hand, failed to disclose this nugget to the FDA. A recent editorial in the New York Times reported a senior FDA official found no conflict because Philbert's salary didn't come out of the donation. Hmmm.

You'll recall the FDA affirms the safety of BPA while the National Toxicology Program calls it toxic. So the latest news makes me curious about everyone else on the advisory panel. In light of recent conflict-of-interest revelations in the drug industry, gotta wonder if there are any objective scientists out there. That said, I don't think for a minute there aren't conflicts at the BPA-is-the-devil camp.

Who's in charge of this mess? Marc Gunther over at Fortune Magazine has an answer: Wal-Mart. Check out his July piece "Wal-Mart: The New FDA".

Of course there's always the reasonable folks over at Stats. Remember the September study linking high levels of BPA to heart disease and diabetes? The PH.D.'s over at Stats debunk the finding in "Your Water Bottle Is Not Going to Give You a Heart Attack". Worth a read.

The Stats writers also discuss three major studies out this year that tried and failed to find any ill effects or associations with BPA. They also speculate on why the media ignored this new evidence. Not nearly as exciting as dread-inspiring correlations.

Too bad if hush-hush conflicts overwhelm the evidence for and against this controversial
chemical. Let us not get distracted from the evidence.

But some have taken precautionary action, including attorney generals from three states (including my own New Jersey) who've asked manufacturers to make BPA-free kiddie products. Let's hope it's not all for nothing.

No comments: