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Guidances

Public Availability of Advisory Committee Members' Financial Interest Information and Waivers

Guidance for the Public, FDA Advisory Committee Members, and FDA Staff 1

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March 2014

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Applicability
  3. Background and Purpose
  4. Legal Framework
  5. Disclosure of Certain Financial Interests and Waivers

Appendix 1: Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee Member Acknowledgement of Disclosure of Financial Interests

Appendix 2: Waiver to Allow Participation in a Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee Meeting

Reference Information


I. Introduction

This guidance is intended to help the public, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee members, and FDA staff to understand and implement statutory requirements and FDA policy regarding public availability of information about financial interests and waivers2 granted by FDA to permit individuals to participate in advisory committee meetings subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) (5 U.S.C. App.). This guidance describes the basis and provides a format for public disclosure of certain financial interests by special Government employees (SGEs) and regular Government employees participating in these advisory committee meetings, and provides a format for FDA waivers allowing participation in these meetings.3  This guidance also explains how and when these documents will be made publicly available by FDA.

FDA's guidance documents, including this guidance, do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities.  Instead, guidances describe the Agency's current thinking on a topic and should be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited.  The use of the word should in Agency guidances means that something is suggested or recommended, but not required.

II.  Applicability

This guidance applies to SGEs and regular Government employees invited to participate in FDA advisory committees subject to FACA.  The types of advisory committee meetings within the scope of this guidance are meetings involving particular matters as defined in regulations issued by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE).  See 5 CFR § 2640.103(a)(1).4 

III.  Background and Purpose

Advisory committees provide independent, expert advice on scientific, technical, and policy matters related to the development and evaluation of products regulated by FDA, such as human and animal drugs, biological products, medical devices, foods, cosmetics, and tobacco products.  The advisory committee system enhances FDA’s ability to protect and promote the public health and maintain the public trust by enabling the agency to obtain the benefit of independent, professional expertise.  Although advisory committees provide recommendations to FDA, final decisions are made by FDA.  See 5 U.S.C. App. 2 § 9(b); 21 CFR § 14.5.

Most FDA advisory committee members are appointed as SGEs.  Advisory committee members may also be regular Government employees; for example, FDA may request participation by employees of the United States Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or other Federal agencies for matters where such employees’ expertise is needed.

FDA implements a rigorous process for soliciting and vetting candidates for advisory committee meetings to minimize any potential for financial conflicts of interest.  In preparation for advisory committee meetings involving particular matters, SGEs invited to participate in the meetings are required to report to FDA any financial interests related to the subject matter of the advisory committee meeting.  See 5 CFR § 2634.904(a)(2).  Regular Government employees also report financial interests on a yearly basis and/or just prior to the advisory committee meeting they are planning to attend.  See 5 CFR §§ 2634.202 and 2634.904(a)(1).  FDA reviews these reports, called Confidential Financial Disclosure Reports5 in advance of each upcoming meeting, once the meeting topics have been identified, to determine whether any financial conflicts of interest may exist for these individuals.6 

FDA seeks to identify all potential financial conflicts related to the particular matter before a committee.  FDA reviews not only the financial interests of a potential advisory committee participant and his immediate family, but also the financial interests, of which he has knowledge, of the participant's business partners, organizations for which he serves as officer, director, trustee, general partner, or employee, and any prospective employer of the member (if there are ongoing employment negotiations or an agreement regarding future employment).  See 18 U.S.C. § 208(a). 

FDA is authorized by statute to grant waivers to allow individuals with potentially conflicting financial interests to participate in meetings where it concludes, after close scrutiny, that certain criteria are met.  See 18 U.S.C. § 208(b)(1) and (b)(3).  The Agency has also issued a guidance document describing our policy for considering eligibility for advisory committee participation.7 

This document contains revisions to reflect the statutory changes in FDA’s authority after the implementation of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 (FDASIA), and replaces previous guidance of the same title.8

IV.  Legal Framework

Members of FDA’s advisory committees are subject to government wide conflict of interest statutes and standards of ethical conduct regulations.  A federal conflict of interest statute, 18 U.S.C. § 208, prohibits an SGE or regular Government employee with a financial interest that can be affected by the particular matter before the advisory committee from participating in the advisory committee meeting unless a waiver is granted or the financial interest is covered by one of the regulatory exemptions found at 5 CFR Part 2640.  The statute is applicable government-wide, and specifies the circumstances under which FDA may grant waivers to permit participation in specific meetings.  An additional statutory requirement applies to FDA advisory committees.  FDA is directed to disclose on its website the type, nature, and magnitude of the financial interests of each advisory committee member who has received a waiver under 18 U.S.C. § 208 and the reasons for granting each waiver prior to the advisory committee meeting, including, as appropriate, the public health interest in having the expertise of the member with respect to the particular matter.9  A waiver for an SGE must be based on a determination that the need for the SGE’s service outweighs the potential for a conflict of interest.  This information must be published within specified time frames before advisory committee meetings.  See § 712(c) of the FD&C Act. 

In addition to these statutory requirements regarding the disclosure of information about financial interests and corresponding waivers, FDA also has the authority to establish policies regarding the operation of advisory committees and participation of advisory committee members.  See 21 U.S.C. § 393; 41 CFR §§ 102-3.105 and 102-3.130. 

V.  Disclosure of Certain Financial Interests and Waivers

To increase the transparency, consistency, and clarity of the advisory committee process, consistent with the requirements of § 712(c) of the FD&C Act described above, FDA has concluded that it is desirable to implement agency-wide procedures regarding disclosure of financial interest information that apply to all SGE and regular Government employees invited to participate in FDA advisory committee meetings subject to FACA.  In preparation for each advisory committee meeting, to ensure individuals understand what information about their financial interests will be made public, FDA intends to request that individuals within the scope of this guidance acknowledge that FDA intends to publicly disclose the type, nature, and magnitude of any waived financial interests.  FDA further intends to make the individuals’ participation in advisory committee meetings contingent upon their acknowledgement of FDA’s intention to publicly disclose this information.

To facilitate such disclosure, FDA plans to prepare a document listing the financial interests for which a waiver is sought.  A template that FDA intends to use when preparing this document, based on information already submitted by the individual,10 is found in Appendix 1.  Using the template format, FDA will list personal and immediate family interests separately from other imputed interests.  Other imputed financial interests are those that are attributed to the individual through his employer (i.e., the employer has a relevant financial interest) or through his position as an officer, director, trustee, or general partner.  Even though the individual may have no personal involvement in these interests, imputed financial interests that can be affected by the particular matter before the advisory committee are considered conflicts of interest under the applicable law. 

First, FDA will identify the type of interest.  The template provides several examples, such as stocks/investments and employment.  Second, FDA will identify the nature of the interest.  The template instructs that the name of the company or institution be identified, along with indicating whether the firm is the sponsor, a competing firm, or other affected entity.  Third, FDA will indicate the magnitude of an interest by a dollar range, such as $0 to 5000.  The agency will request that the individual in need of a waiver review the document and acknowledge his/her understanding that FDA will publicly disclose the information. 

FDA does not intend to publicly disclose financial interest information if the information is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act or otherwise protected from disclosure by statute or regulation, except if necessary to describe the type, nature, and magnitude of the financial conflict being waived.  For example, FDA would not disclose the name of a company or institution in which the committee member has a financial interest if doing so would reveal that company’s confidential commercial information.

In addition, FDA is providing a template of the waivers that the agency grants (Appendix 2). FDA intends to write the waivers in a manner to ensure that information protected from disclosure by statute or regulation does not appear in the waivers.  The waivers would therefore not typically require redaction when publicly disclosed as described in the following paragraph.  However, if confidential information appears in other documents submitted, completed, or generated in the course of FDA’s review of financial interests and waiver requests, this information will continue to be protected from public disclosure in accordance with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.  See, e.g., 21 CFR Part 20. 

For waivers that are granted, the disclosure statement will be posted on FDA’s website, along with the agency’s waiver.  FDA will post these documents on the FDA website11 at least 15 days prior to the relevant advisory committee meeting, except for financial conflicts of interest that do not become known to FDA until shortly before the meeting.  For conflicts of interest that FDA becomes aware of less than 30 days prior to the meeting and for which a waiver is issued, FDA will post the documents as soon as practicable and no later than the day of the meeting.  These time frames are consistent with the requirements of section 712(c) of the FD&C Act.  The agency also plans to make the disclosure statements and waiver documents public at corresponding advisory committee meetings.

Additionally, FDA plans to post a roster12 of all advisory committee members expected to attend a specific meeting at the same time briefing materials for that meeting are posted. See FDA’s Guidance for Industry: Advisory Committee Meetings – Preparation and Public Availability of Information Given to Advisory Committee Members.13


Appendix 1

Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee Member Acknowledgment of Disclosure of Financial Interests

Name of Advisory Committee Member:

Committee:

Meeting Date:

I acknowledge that my participation in the advisory committee meeting described above is contingent upon public disclosure of the following financial interest(s) related to the agenda item:  [Describe relevant agenda item],

I. Personal/Immediate Family
 

Type of Interest

Nature

Magnitude

[Describe type of interest; e.g.:
Stocks/investments;
Employment;
Work as consultant/advisor;
Contracts/grants;
Patents/royalties/trademarks
Work as an expert witness
Teaching/speaking/writing]

[Describe nature of interest; i.e.:
name of company or institution and whether it is the sponsor, a competing firm, or other affected entity]

[Describe magnitude of interest; e.g.:
$0 – 5,000;
$5001 – 10,000;
$10,001 – 25,000;
$25,001 – 50,000]

II. Other Imputed Interests14

Type of Interest

Nature

Magnitude

[Describe type of interest; e.g.:
Stocks/investments;
Employment;
Work as consultant/advisor;
Contracts/grants;
Patents/royalties/trademarks
Work as an expert witness
Teaching/speaking/writing]

[Describe nature of interest; i.e.:
name of company or institution and whether it is the sponsor, a competing firm, or other affected entity]

[Describe magnitude of interest; e.g.:
$0 – 50,000;
$50,001 – 100,000;
$100,001 – 300,000;
over $300,000]

I hereby acknowledge that FDA will make this information publicly available if the agency grants a waiver15 allowing me to participate in the meeting described above.  I understand that without public disclosure of these interests, I will not participate in the advisory committee meeting described above.

Signature:

Date:


Appendix 2

 

Waiver to Allow Participation in a Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee Meeting

Name of Advisory Committee Member: 

Committee:

Meeting Date:

Description of the Facts on Which the Waiver is Based:

Type, Nature, and Magnitude of Financial Interest(s):

Description of the Particular Matter to Which the Waiver Applies:

Additional Facts (if any):

Basis for Granting the Waiver:

Certification: [Use one of the first two statements when describing a waiver granted under 18 U.S.C. § 208(b), depending on whether the individual is a regular Government employee or SGE.]

________  The individual may participate, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 208(b)(1) – The regular Government employee’s financial interest is not so substantial as to be deemed likely to affect the integrity of the services provided by that individual. 

________  The individual may participate, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 208(b)(3) – The need for the individual’s services outweighs the potential for a conflict of interest created by the financial interest involved.

Limitations on the Regular Government Employee or Special Government Employee’s Ability to Act:
________ Non-voting
________ Other (specify)


Signature, Authorized FDA Official:  

Date:  


Reference Information

About this Guidance Document

This guidance represents the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) current thinking on this topic.  It does not create or confer any rights for or on any person and does not operate to bind FDA or the public.  You can use an alternative approach if the approach satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.  If you want to discuss an alternative approach, contact the appropriate FDA staff.  If you cannot identify the appropriate FDA staff, call the appropriate number listed on the title page of this guidance.

How to Comment on This Guidance Document

Comments and suggestions may be submitted at any time for agency consideration to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. All comments should be identified with the docket number listed in the notice of availability that is published in the Federal Register.

To Obtain Copies of this Document

Additional copies are available by mail from:

Advisory Committee Oversight and Management Staff
Office of Special Medical Programs, OMPT
Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue,
Building 32, rm. 5103
Silver Spring, Maryland 20993

Or on the Web:

http://www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/Guidances/ucm122045.htm

For Questions About This Document

For questions on the content of this guidance, contact Advisory Committee Oversight and Management Staff, at 301-796-8220.

FDA Contact Information

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Food and Drug Administration
Advisory Committee Oversight and Management Staff
Office of Special Medical Programs, OMPT


Footnotes

1 This guidance has been prepared by the Advisory Committee Oversight and Management Staff in the Office of the Commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration. 

2 For purposes of this guidance, the term "waiver" refers to determinations and certifications that the Agency is authorized to issue under 18 U.S.C. § 208(b)(1) and (b)(3), respectively.

3 See "Guidance for the Public, FDA Advisory Committee Members, and FDA Staff on Procedures for Determining Conflict of Interest and Eligibility for Participation in FDA Advisory Committees."   That document describes FDA’s policy for considering whether an individual invited to participate in an FDA advisory committee meeting has a potential conflict of interest under 18 U.S.C. 208 and whether, under the statute, a waiver to allow participation in an advisory committee meeting is appropriate.

4  Particular matters involve deliberation, decision, or action that is focused upon the interests of specific persons or a discrete and identifiable class of persons, and include matters involving specific parties and matters of general applicability.  See also 5 CFR § 2640.102(l)-(m). 

5 In rare cases, an individual who is a regular Government employee may file a Public Financial Disclosure Report.

6 In addition, FDA screens advisory committee members broadly for covered relationships that could present even the appearance that they have conflicts of interest that could affect their impartiality.  See 5 CFR  § 2635.502.  This guidance does not address this screening process.

8 Section 712 of the FD&C Act requires that FDA review its disclosure guidance at least every 5 years, and update guidances as appropriate.  This revision is a result of that review.

9 This statutory disclosure requirement has changed over time.  For example, under § 505(n)(4) of the FD&C Act, enacted as part of the Food and Drug Administration Modernization and Accountability Act of 1997, advisory committee members serving on panels related to new drugs could only receive a waiver of a conflict of interest requirement “upon public disclosure of such conflict of interest if such waiver is necessary to afford the panel essential expertise.”  The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 repealed § 505(n)(4) and enacted § 712.  As enacted at that time, § 712 also contained provisions regarding waivers of conflicts of interests and public disclosures of such waivers.  It had several differences from § 505(n)(4), including that it extended its conflict of interest rules to all FDA advisory committee members.  In 2012, Congress enacted FDASIA, which amended § 712, including by removing the “essential expertise” agency-specific waiver standard.  The requirement to make disclosures of waivers is now in § 712(c).

10 See section III above.

14 Other imputed interests include those that are attributed to the individual through his employer (i.e., the employer has a relevant financial interest) or through his position as an officer, director, trustee, or general partner.

15 Includes determinations under 18 U.S.C. § 208(b)(1) and certifications under 18 U.S.C. § 208(b)(3).