Conflicts of Interest on Expert Committees: The Case of FDA Drug Advisory Committees

36 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2017 Last revised: 27 Apr 2018

See all articles by James C. Cooper

James C. Cooper

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Joseph H. Golec

University of Connecticut - Department of Finance

Date Written: April 1, 2017

Abstract

Governments and firms often use committees of experts to help them make complex decisions, but conflicts of interest could bias experts’ recommendations. We focus on whether financial ties to drug companies bias FDA drug advisory committee (AC) members’ voting on drug approval recommendations. We find little significant evidence that AC members vote in their financial interests. We find stronger evidence that experts’ characteristics such as expertise level or associations with advocacy groups drives voting tendencies (biases) either for or against approval. We show that a Congressional Act that effectively excluded financially-conflicted AC members resulted in a sharp drop in average AC member expertise, and an unintended increase in approval voting. Our results have implications for the popular goal of eliminating financial conflicts from all medical decisions. Eliminating conflicts could sharply reduce the level of expertise of the decision makers and lead to unexpected voting tendencies.

Keywords: Conflicts of Interest, Expert Committees, FDA, pharmaceuticals

JEL Classification: D71, D73, D74, K32, K23, I18, I18, I10, I11, H51, G14

Suggested Citation

Cooper, James C. and Golec, Joseph, Conflicts of Interest on Expert Committees: The Case of FDA Drug Advisory Committees (April 1, 2017). University of Connecticut School of Business Research Paper No. 17-02; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 18-10. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2944751 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2944751

James C. Cooper

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-9582 (Phone)

Joseph Golec (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut - Department of Finance ( email )

School of Business
2100 Hillside Road
Storrs, CT 06269
United States

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