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Senior Democratic and Republican lawmakers are urging Obama to appoint a commissioner who will shake up the FDA and restore the confidence of its working-level scientists and medical experts. But industry officials fear that approval of new drugs and devices could be delayed by endless scientific disputes -- which is the agency's reputation.
The FDA dissidents have previously taken their concerns to Congress and found support from lawmakers in the House.
In the letter the group singled out mammography computer-aided detection devices as an example of a technology that should not have gone forward. The devices were supposed to improve breast cancer detection, but instead studies showed they were associated with false alarms that led to unnecessary breast biopsies.
Since 2006, FDA experts have recommended five times against approving the devices without better clinical evidence, the letter said. In March of last year, a panel of outside advisers supported some of the concerns of the FDA's in-house scientists. Nonetheless, FDA managers overruled the objections and ordered approval.
Top FDA managers "committed the most outrageous misconduct by ordering, coercing and intimidating FDA physicians and scientists to recommend approval, and then retaliating when the physicians and scientists refused to go along," the letter said.
A spokeswoman said the Obama transition team had no comment.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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