While the national movement that swept Donald Trump into office leaned heavily on a “Drain the Swamp” slogan, FDA officials are filling the swamp with more murky water and many of them are leaving the agency en masse to work at a Big Pharma consulting/lobbying firm.
Greenleaf Health, which may not have been on your radar, is the beneficiary of this influx of agency personnel. It’s a DC-based consulting firm that helps the pharmaceutical industry get products through FDA approval and avoid enforcement actions.
Greenleaf boasts an impressive assembly of former FDA officials. This is especially true after a recent high-profile hire, Dr. John Jenkins, a twenty-five-year agency veteran and the former director of the Office of New Drugs, where he oversaw the review of thousands of new drug applications. Dr. Jenkins also reportedly played a major role in implementing the Prescription Drug User Fee Act—the legislation that allowed the FDA to collect fees from Big Pharma to fund the drug approval process.
This is a prime example of the revolving door between the FDA and Big Pharma. Not only does the drug industry fund the FDA through user fees—regulators are often sitting across the table from their future employers.
It’s no wonder that in our present crony capitalist medical system, drugs like Vioxx and Avandia, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, make it through the agency! Or that legitimate drugs fail because the sponsor has not hired the right consultant. At this point, it is widely acknowledged that there is no point submitting a drug to the FDA if you have not hired the right former employees.