Today The Union of Concerned Scientists an independent non-profit claiming a membership of 100,000 scientists will hold a press conference to release a survey at a press conference at the National Press Club that, according to its notice will "demonstrate widespread and dangerous political and commercial interference at the agency." Further quoting the notice "FDA scientists report being asked to ‘alter their findings for non-scientific reasons, experiencing inappropriate commercial influences on their work, and being afraid to publicly express concerns about public health for fear of retaliation." Among the participants in the news conference the notice lists Susan Wood, former director of the Office of Women’s Health.
One wonders if the agency, as in other situations where there have been damaging revelations, will react with its head in the sand, or whether this will be an event that propels them to finally take some action on the communications front to preserve, protect and defend their reputation. So far, as often remarked here, they have shown no sign of implementing any kind of crisis management, preferring to pretend one supposes, that there is no crisis.
But this event has the potential to become further grist in the mill for FDA reformers on the Hill and may serve to further erode the agency’s standing in the eyes of the public. It is way past time for the agency to respond with a well-strategized communications plan.
One note on that, it will not be enough to discredit this report or the organization delivering it, especially with a former employer listed as being present. Any plan must deal with the issues, not the messenger. Among those issues, as evidenced by the reported presence of Susan Wood, who resigned from the FDA over the handling of Plan B, to address the continually outstanding issue of that OTC switch and the way it was handled.
Please, get busy FDA. Put on the gloves.