[Pharmwaste] Health agency's ethics, finances to be reviewed

DeBiasi,Deborah dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Wed Aug 22 15:11:58 EDT 2007


Health agency's ethics, finances to be reviewed
Research group at federal level faces questions about conflicts of
interest, mismanagement.

By Jeff Nesmith
Cox Washington Bureau

Published on: 08/22/07
Washington -- Buffeted by charges of mismanagement and conflicts of
interest, the agency responsible for federal research on environmental
causes of disease will be subjected to a "comprehensive" review of
financial and ethical issues, the National Institutes of Health
announced Tuesday.

NIH Director Elias Zerhouni said in a news release that he was ordering
the review of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
and the National Toxicology Program in order to "help clarify the issues
that have recently surfaced."

He said Dr. David Schwartz, who was appointed to head NIEHS in 2005, had
agreed to temporarily step aside.

The announcement follows by less than two weeks a report by a
NIEHS-appointed panel of 12 outside experts who declared they had found
little cause for concern about the health effects of the
hormone-mimicking chemical bisphenol A. The chemical is used to line
soft drink cans and make plastic food containers.

The panel reviewed scientific studies selected by Sciences
International, a consulting firm with a $5 million contract with NIEHS.

The firm was fired after an environmental advocacy organization, the
Environmental Working Group, reported it had ties to Dow Chemical Corp.,
one of the world's largest producers of bisphenol A.

A different panel with no connection to NIEHS had earlier found "great
cause for concern" that exposure of fetuses and newborns to the chemical
may be responsible for a wide range of developmental problems.

In addition to the bisphenol A issue, NIEHS has come under criticism in
the past several months over spending policies and Schwartz's management

"Congress and others have raised important questions and concerns over
the past few months, and we will be fully responsive," Zerhouni said. 

In an e-mail, Schwartz told NIEHS employees that "although this
development is personally painful, I am committed to a full and
comprehensive review" and urged them to cooperate.

NIEHS is one of 27 institutes and centers that make up NIH.

In addition to biomedical research done by its own scientists on how
environmental factors affect disease, the agency funds studies by
independent researchers.

Although housed at NIEHS, the National Toxicology Program is a
multi-agency office funded by NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email:   dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address:  www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Water Permit Programs
Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
Mail:          P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA  23218 (NEW!)
Location:  629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219
PH:         804-698-4028
FAX:      804-698-4032

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