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Highlights

The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been criticized about how it recruits individuals to become members of its advisory committees and how it grants some determinations that allow members with conflicts of interest to participate in committee meetings. Advisory committee meetings can include both standing and temporary members. Temporary members only serve for a particular meeting. GAO was asked to examine FDA's advisory committee processes. GAO reported on (1) how FDA recruited individuals for membership and evaluated candidates for potential conflicts of interest, (2) barriers that were reported to recruiting qualified individuals to serve on committees, and (3) the proportion of standing and temporary members, and the frequency with which members with conflict of interest determinations participated in meetings. GAO reviewed FDA advisory committee policies and analyzed meeting records for FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), and Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). GAO also interviewed individuals familiar with FDA's committee member recruiting process. GAO did not examine the effects of changes in FDA's advisory committee processes resulting from the FDA Amendments Act of 2007 and 2007 FDA policy revisions as it was too soon to assess them.

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