China shuts the revolving door for government officials

One of the problems identified in Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patientsis the revolving door between drug regulators, such as the FDA and their European equivalent, and the pharma industry:

The EMA regulates the pharmaceutical industry throughout the whole of Europe, and has taken over the responsibilities of the regulators in individual member countries. In December 2010 Thomas Lonngren stepped down as its executive director. On the 28th of that month he sent a letter telling the EMA management board that he was going to start working as a private consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, starting in just four days’ time, on 1 January 2011.

In the USA, for example, you have to wait a year after leaving the Defense Department before you can work for a defence contractor. After ten days the chairman of the EMA wrote back to Lonngren saying that his plans were fine. He didn’t impose any further restrictions, and nor, remarkably, did he ask for any information on what kind of work Lonngren planned to do. Lonngren had said in his letter that there would be no conflict of interest, and that was enough for everyone concerned.

Coincidentally I had breakfast this morning with a Chinese-American entrepreneur. She explained that her father back in Mainland China was currently unemployed and coming for a long visit. He had worked for the government but, due to a new rule requiring a five-year waiting period, had to quit his industry job.

1 Comment

  1. Izzie L.

    July 2, 2014 @ 11:53 am


    Blogger/ law professor Glenn Reynolds has proposed a stiff income tax on people who do the revolving door shtick from government into industry. Also on the “speaking fees” that ex-government officials get, which are thinly disguised bribes for future access (I’m talking about you, Hillary). I think this may be a better idea than a long outright prohibition. Lengthy “non-competes” are frowned on by the courts (even outright prohibited in California) because they don’t allow people to make the best use of their talents. But OTOH, it’s right that the government recapture some of the “rents” that accrue from having an inside track.

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