FDA's morale spending irks Congress

The US Food and Drug Administration is raising hackles on Capitol Hill where lawmakers are peeved that the agency has paid a consultant more than one million dollars to raise the spirits of FDA employees. Morale at the FDA seems to have hit an all time low, with internal and public voices levying criticisms against the agency for approving high-profile drugs that turned out to be unsafe. (See our December 2008 feature on morale problems at the FDA). The linkurl:__Wall Street Journal__;http://o

By | January 8, 2009

The US Food and Drug Administration is raising hackles on Capitol Hill where lawmakers are peeved that the agency has paid a consultant more than one million dollars to raise the spirits of FDA employees. Morale at the FDA seems to have hit an all time low, with internal and public voices levying criticisms against the agency for approving high-profile drugs that turned out to be unsafe. (See our December 2008 feature on morale problems at the FDA). The linkurl:__Wall Street Journal__;http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123137470811862863.html?mod=googlenews_wsj reports today that in 2007 the FDA paid approximately $1.5 million to Oakland, CA-based consultant firm Center for Professional Development Inc. FDA employees, attending a recent retreat, were shown a slideshow prepared by the company that likened Janet Woodcock, head of the agency's Center for Drug Evaluation, to Golda Meir, Steve Jobs, and Mahatma Gandhi, among others. Several lawmakers weighed in on the hiring of the consultant and the slideshow, as House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee opened an inquiry into the contract. "It's a cinch that if I spent a nickel of taxpayers' money to rank myself with [Sam] Houston and [Stephen F.] Austin, I'd have some explaining to do after the laughter died down," Republican Congressman from Texas Joe Barton told the __Wall Street Journal__. Rep. John Shimkus (R., Ill.) told the __Wall Street Journal__ that the retreat was a waste of time. "To remove managers for two days to discuss this morale problem, instead of putting food and drug safety first, is ridiculous," he said.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Morale Mire;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/55234/
[December 2008]*linkurl:House berates FDA, drug makers;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22398/
[10 September 2004]
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Comments

Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

January 8, 2009

While that is a lot of money, as long as it isn't cover for something else, a congress critter with the sense god gave a banana would realize that mocking them for it isn't helpful to morale. \n\nThe good congress critter is top dog and his morale isn't a problem. That's because he is in charge of making the you-know-what roll downhill. \n\nForgive my salty expression. I just can't stand fools straight out of Dilbert.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 15

January 8, 2009

The morale of FDA employees is not the problem -- it's their morals (ethics) or lack of them that should be the focus of reform.\n\nThe fact that high-ranking FDA officials troop off to lucrative big-Pharma positions as they leave the government's employment should be a clue that the watchdogs have surrendered their teeth for a future promise of already chewed beefsteak.\n\nMeanwhile badly conceived and poorly tested drugs are destroying lives while pharmaceutical companies and their CEO's make out like bandits.\n\nThe few ethical folks in the agency are hounded out of their jobs and ignored by a Congress also on the take from drug companies. Shame. Shame. Shame.\n\n
Avatar of: ROBERT HURST

ROBERT HURST

Posts: 31

January 8, 2009

It seems that incompetent leadership always feels morale problems are solved by motivational seminars rather than by addressing what people want from work. Of course, had that been considered first, there would be no morale problem. Perform the mission, recognize the efforts of those who do the work, show the results of peoples' work matters, provide a good working environment, and morale will be high. No amount of motivational B.S. will correct for failures in any of those areas. Had that $1.5 million been spent on bonuses for performers, it would have been far more effective.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

January 8, 2009

Big Pharma wanted to turn the FDA into a big corporation. With the help of Congress (User fees, FDAMA, etc.), Big Pharma got its wish. Not surprisingly, Dilbertism now reigns at the FDA, just as it does throughout big Pharma. Paying a consultant firm an absurd fee to conduct an allegedly morale enhancing 'retreat' is precisely the kind of nonsense that goes on all the time in big pharmaceutical companies. It's but one example of the kind of meaningless activity that a mid-level manager can get his/her boss to treat as a positive achievement in an annual performance appraisal. Want to improve the FDA? Eliminate the redundant cadres of managers who run the place. Let the regulators regulate.
Avatar of: Alka Chandna

Alka Chandna

Posts: 3

January 12, 2009

Rather than squandering $1.5 million to boost employee morale, the FDA should have spent that money, and more, on developing and implementing non-animal tests. \n\nThe FDA requires pharmaceutical companies to test candidate drugs on dogs, monkeys, rats, mice, guinea pigs, and other animals, even though it admits that of all drugs that are found to be safe and effective in animal tests, a staggering 92 percent are determined to be either unsafe or ineffective in humans. By ignoring the faster, cheaper, and more accurate non-animal testing methods that have been validated in Europe?the FDA hinders pharmaceutical companies from marketing safe, efficacious drugs.\n\nWorse still, consumers are denied treatments born of the best that science can offer?human-cell biochips such as the Hurel; the use of high-tech ?quantitative structure activity relationship? (QSAR) data, which People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals supports financially; microdosing, which allows precise evaluation of drug activity in the human body using miniscule drug doses; and 3-D tissue models of body parts developed by companies such as The MatTek Corporation. \n\nThe FDA needs to put aside its pom-poms and lead the charge in modernizing drug development and testing in this country. \n

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