Manchin wrote to Hamburg that he will ask for a full Congressional investigation, especially after The Washington Post published an article about "pay to play" allegations between the pharmaceutical industry and FDA officials overseeing painkiller medicines.
The Washington Post reported on Sunday that "a scientific panel that shaped the federal government's policy for testing the safety and effectiveness of painkillers was funded by major pharmaceutical companies that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for the chance to affect the thinking of the Food and Drug Administration, according to hundreds of e-mails obtained by a public records request.
"The e-mails show that the companies paid as much as $25,000 to attend any given meeting of the panel," the newspaper stated.
"If these allegations are accurate," Manchin wrote in his letter to Hamburg, "there is a direct conflict of interest that allows pharmaceutical companies to have undue influence over the FDA's decision-making process, particularly in regards to rescheduling hydrocodone combination drugs, a highly addictive painkiller."
During his press conference, Manchin said the FDA should be a "watchdog. It should help patients. The fact they are using these type of tactics [meetings with drug company representatives] makes no sense to me."
In his letter to Hamburg, Manchin said the allegations that have just become public "clearly demonstrate a conflict of interest by allowing pharmaceutical companies to have undue influence over the FDA's decision making process. I plan to call for a full Congressional investigation into this issue."
Manchin is asking the FDA for a list of the locations, dates and times of all FDA meetings, discussion panels and conferences "where private companies, individuals and/or interest groups were able to attend if payments over $1,000 were made to the FDA or the organizing entity."
His office is also requesting a list of "all former FDA employees who left the FDA for employment at any company that paid funds to attend these meetings, discussion panels and conferences."
Manchin said he wants to schedule formal hearings before either the Senate Health and Education Committee or the Senate Judiciary Committee in coming weeks.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.