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Drug companies sponsored FDA staff travel

Alexander Cohen of The Center for Public Integrity analyzed FDA reports of privately sponsored trips taken by agency officials between October 1999 and September 2005 that cost more than $250 and found a loophole in the agency rules that has allowed its employees to receive more than $1.3 million in sponsored travel from groups closely tied to pharmaceutical and medical device companies. "The investigation found nonprofit associations that draw their members, their boards and even some of their funding from medical and pharmaceutical-related companies paying for the travel of hundreds of FDA employees." Among other findings, five organizations that were tied to FDA-regulated companies sponsored almost 1,000 trips, seventeen Drug Safety Oversight Board members took more than 160 privately-funded trips costing more than $220,000, and eleven Drug Safety Oversight Board members took 55 trips, costing roughly $75,000, sponsored by one or more of the five organizations.

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