MARCH 09, 2012
In the latest scandal to rock the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a veteran chemist at the beleaguered agency has been sentenced to prison for using “sensitive inside information” to engage in illegal insider trading that fattened his bank account by millions.
The Justice Department says the corrupt FDA chemist (Cheng Yi Liang), who worked in the Office of New Drug Quality Assessment, traded on multiple occasions by using non-public information obtained through the agency’s password-protected internal tracking system for new drug applications. Liang made nearly $4 million off the deals and recently reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. This week he was sentenced to five years in prison.
Perhaps the FDA will find a way to keep him on its payroll. A few years ago a congressional report exposed that government scientists convicted of felonies are allowed to conduct essential drug and biologics research because the FDA doesn’t bother removing them, even though federal law demands it. This means Liang may very well get his job back after he’s done serving time.
His case is simply the most recent of many controversies to hit the federal agency responsible for protecting public health and safety. In the last few years the FDA has been embroiled in a number of transgressions, mostly involving its failure to enforce federal laws to please wealthy pharmaceuticals that pay hundreds of millions of dollars in “fees.”
In fact, the appalling arrangement has even been documented in various federal probes. One scathing congressional report outlines in detail how the FDA allows companies that annually pay it more than $400 million in fees to compromise public safety.
Judicial Watch has exposed one deadly example—Gardasil— that was fast-tracked by the FDA to protect against cervical cancer. JW uncovered droves of government records listing thousands of adverse reactions associated with the vaccine, which is manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Merck. They include paralysis, convulsions, blindness and dozens of deaths. Based on the records JW published a special report detailing Gardasil’s approval process, side effects, safety concerns and marketing practices.
JW has also exposed FDA secrecy. A few years ago JW reported how the agency avoided publicly disclosing information about an approval process by rebranding the product for veterinary use. It involved the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption—genetically modified fish—and the FDA wanted to keep the gory details from Americans who would eventually it.
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