Vacancies on FDA Advisory Committees

Anyone attending an FDA Advisory Committee meeting will likely discern right away that the job of serving in the capacity as a member is probably not terribly exciting.  You have to travel from where you live, review mountains of data, speak credibly and act responsibly only after revealing a lot of information about your financial relationships.  You have to sit for hours in what is likely a not very comfortable chair. You have to be patient.  And that is only the beginning.

Some have speculated that increased scrutiny for potential conflict of interests among those serving on FDA advisory committees will keep large numbers of otherwise qualified people from serving.  No judgment on that front is being rendered on that front today.

But in conjunction with yesterday’s posting that looked at the upcoming advisory committee meeting schedule for 2012, one could see that a good number of meetings were scheduled for some of the committees.  Take the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) for example – it 7 meetings scheduled to cover 14 days during the year, but you can see below, the committee has several vacancies now and more scheduled to come this year.

Looking solely at the vacancies for drugs, biologics and devices, there are 116 vacancies.  According to agency has made progress in filling vacant positions.  While the agency has a goal of reaching 10% vacancy, it is now at 20% which is down from the 25% vacancy reported in October 2010.

Below are listed the committees along with the current number of vacancies.  Note that these numbers were taken from each site of each advisory committee, but in addition, each of the committees will have some members who will also be rotating off this year, making the number of people needed to fill vacant slots even higher.


  • Anesthetic Analgesic – 8
  • Anti-Infective – 6
  • Anti-Viral – 5 (including the Chair)
  • Arthritis – 8 (including the Chair)
  • Cardiovascular – 1
  • Dermatological – 4
  • Drug Safety – 1
  • Endocrinology – 3
  • Gastroenterology – 4
  • Medical Imaging – 12
  • Non-Prescription – 5
  • Oncologic – 4
  • Peripheral/CNS – 5 (including the Chair)
  • Pharmaceutical Science – 14
  • PsychoPharmacologic – 1
  • Pulmonary Allergy – 1
  • Reproductive – 6 (including the Chair)


  • Allergenic – 0
  • Blood Products – 5
  • Cellular Tissues Gene – 1
  • Transmissible Spongiform – 2
  • Vaccines Related Biologics – 1


  • Anesthesiology – 4 (Including the Chair)
  • Circulatory – 0
  • Clinical Chemistry – 0
  • Dental – 0
  • Ear Nose Throat – 0
  • Gastro Urology – 0
  • General Plastic Surgery – 1
  • General Hospital – 0
  • Hematology – 0
  • Immunological – 2
  • Med Devices Dispute – 0
  • Microbiology – 0
  • Molecular & Cl Genetics – 1
  • Neurological – 0
  • Obstetrics – 0
  • Ophthalmic – 2
  • Orthopedic – 0
  • Radiological – 0
This entry was posted in Advisory Committee Prepapartion. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Vacancies on FDA Advisory Committees

  1. Mark—As always, I appreciate the interesting perspective you provide. My reaction is to look at the distribution–the top six committees represent 45% of the vacancies. Lots of FDA people are doing a very good job of keeping the vacancies down at their AC’s–a handful of committees are not doing as good a job.

    It also might be useful to look at whether any of these larger sets of committee vacancies are an artifact of terms that ended in late November and December and will be filled before the next meeting. Clearing new members (ones ready for final sign-off and appointment) may well have slowed for vacancies created at the end of the year.

    I am fairly sanguine about the ability of FDA to handle conflicts and anxious that restrictions are eating into the pool of good members…but I am unsure that the numbers you posted (admittedly with a minimum of commentary) demonstrate that conflicts policy is creating problems filling vacances.

    Best regards, Steven Grossman PS for those interested in additional commentary on FDA, check out my

Comments are closed.