As the Food and Drug Administration seeks information about how pervasively Bisphenol-A is used, criticism is mounting about the latest perceived conflict-of-interest in the agency's controversial safety review of the chemical.
Charles Gelman, a retired medical supply manufacturer who has called Bisphenol-A "perfectly safe" gave $5 million to the University of Michigan's Risk Science Center, where Martin Philbert is the founder and director. Philbert also happens to be the chairman of the FDA panel reviewing the safety of Bisphenol-A, and he didn't disclose the gift as a conflict of interest, despite that the donation dwarfs the center's annual budget of $210,000.
This revelation, like many others in the case of FDA's industry-skewed assessments of Bisphenol-A, was made by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinenel, which is acting as a more effective watchdog for the American public, when it comes to chemical safety, then the federal agencies charged with the task.
Bisphenol-A acts like the female hormone estrogen, and has been linked to health problems with the prostate, with the normal development of the reproductive and nervous systems. It may also disrupt chemotherapy cancer treatments.
But the FDA has consistently disregarded these studies, by independent and government scientists, in favor of industry research -- some of it that has not been peer-reviewed -- that purports to show the chemical's safety.
The latest news is that the FDA is seeking information about which medical devices, drugs and other products it regulates actually contain Bisphenol-A. Whether the agency restricts the use of any of those products, or states clearly that there are health concerns -- as the National Toxicology Program has done -- remains to be seen.
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