Study of FDA Staff Scientists Finds Lingering Concerns Amidst Improving Outlook

Posted 07 March 2012 | By Alexander Gaffney, RAC 

A study released 7 March by the Union of Concern Scientists (UCS) finds that US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) staff scientists are increasingly upbeat about the direction of the agency.

Among the survey's findings:

  • Only 43.5% of staff scientists believes the center or office where they work has the resources it needs to meet its role in fulfilling the mission of FDA
  • Despite a lack of resources, 75% of respondents believe FDA is acting effectively to protect public health
  • 66% of respondents believe FDA is moving in the right direction, while just 15.6% believe FDA is moving in the wrong direction. In 2006, 50.6% believed FDA was moving in the wrong direction
  • 71% of respondents agreed they "respect the integrity and professionalism of overall FDA leadership"
  • Only 38.4% of respondents through FDA leadership stands behind employees who make controversial decisions, but 51.2% believed their direct supervisor stands behind their controversial decisions
  • 30.3% of respondents did not feel they had sufficient time to keep up with scientific advancements in their respective fields of work
  • 53.7% of respondents believe they could openly express concerns about their agency without fear of retaliation
  • Just 15.3% of respondents felt that they could speak to the public and news media about scientific research findings
  • An overwhelming 76.2% of respondents felt FDA leadership struck the right balance between product safety and market access
  • 25.7% of scientists felt that uncertainty or disagreement with the science represented the largest barrier to timely agency decisions. A further 19.4% believed complex issues were the biggest time barrier, while 13.6% blamed an inefficient decision-making process and 11.5% blamed the influence of industry stakeholders.
  • 63.7% of respondents felt that scientific advisory committee advice was "always" or "frequently" heeded and incorporated into regulatory decisions

The rest of the Union of Concerned Scientists' survey data set can be found at the links below.

Read more:

2011 Survey of FDA Scientists Detailed Response Data

UCS - FDA Scientist Survey Shows Progress, But Problems Remain

FDA - Keeping the Focus on Scientific Integrity

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