By a better than two-to-one majority, GEN online readers say FDA should not relax conflict of interest guidelines covering its advisory panels. With 65.8% voting “no” and 27.8% voting “yes,” respondents clearly sided with those who want to keep the tighter guidelines, contending that financial conflicts are bound to bias advisory panel members.

FDA recently retreated from plans to relax its conflict of interest rules governing the experts who serve on its advisory panels. At issue are 1988 rules barring individuals if they, their spouse, or minor children have more than $50,000 in potentially conflicting financial interests. Those who vouch for loosening the rules say the instituted limits have resulted in too many empty spots on advisory panels and members not always having the necessary expertise.

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