The FDA Bonus Issue – von Eshenbach’s Side

J0409030On August 2, the Washington Post carried an article about the FDA retention bonus program – "FDA’s Retention Bonuses Rise to the Top; Critics Say Money Goes to Managers, Not Scientists Coveted by Drug Firms" which was highly critical on a number of fronts regarding the bonus program.  This issue has the attention of key members of Congress. 

Over two weeks later, a letter to the editor regarding the FDA bonus situation appeared from Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach.  It appeared on a Saturday, August 18 edition in the letter-to-the-editor section of the Washington Post.  Since it was regarding a front-page story, I thought the Saturday printing a little off-balance, so I thought I would offer what humble boost I could give to its circulation.  Here is the letter in its entirety.

Regarding your Aug. 2 front-page article "FDA’s Retention Bonuses Rise to the Top; Critics Say Money Goes to Managers, Not Scientists Coveted by Drug Firms":

The article made erroneous conclusions about recipients of retention bonuses and their achievements.

Contrary to what the article reported, more than 90 percent of the $13 million pool of retention bonus money went directly to the Food and Drug Administration’s physicians and scientists. Members of the Senior Executive Service and other managers received 9 percent of that bonus pool.

The article mischaracterized the many contributions of two senior executives who received bonuses. Margaret Glavin effectively oversees the FDA’s nationwide field operation of 3,200 employees as our first line of public health defense. She established the FDA’s Office of Counterterrorism Policy and Planning and has received two Presidential Rank awards.

Terry Vermillion, also a recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, founded the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations and has led more than 4,600 national and international criminal investigations, resulting in 4,338 arrests, more than 3,100 convictions, more than $2.15 billion in fines and $750 million in assets forfeited to the Justice Department.

Responsible use of pay flexibilities helps the FDA find and keep expert, dedicated employees — and it has proven essential to our ability to fulfill our public health mission.

— Andrew C. von Eschenbach

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