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Panel politics unresolved

Concerns continue over US advisory panels' new make-up.

Peg Brickley(pegbrickley@hotmail.com)

As the year draws to a close, Bush administration officials have offered little in response to protests from a variety of quarters over the apparent politicization of scientific advisory panel appointments. Since the summer, Democratic lawmakers, science and health advocacy groups and displaced advisors themselves have been questioning the elimination of active advisory panels and charging that others are being stacked with industry advocates and unqualified scientists chosen for their political leanings.

"I am deeply worried that a pattern of political interference with appointments to scientific advisory bodies will undermine the credibility and evenhandedness of scientific advice to the Congress and the American people," wrote Thomas Murray, president of bioethics think tank The Hastings Center, on December 12, to Mark McClellan, newly-named commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Murray had learned earlier in the week that he would be dropped from the Biological Response Modifiers Advisory...

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