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.