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Senators Shaheen, Hassan Help Introduce Legislation to Slow Revolving Door Between the Pharmaceutical Industry and Federal Agencies

WASHINGTON – Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) today helped introduce new legislation, the Pharmaceutical Regulation Conflict of Interest Act, that will slow the revolving door between the pharmaceutical industry and the federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that are entrusted to keep patients and the public safe. 

A recent Washington Post story highlighted the revolving door between pharmaceutical companies and these federal regulators, outlining how former DEA officials played a role in the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to stop the DEA from cracking down on opioid distributors suspected of wrongdoing. Previous reporting by the Post in December 2016 detailed how more than 30 DEA officials responsible for regulating the drug industry have left for jobs with pharmaceutical companies or the law firms representing them since 2005.       

“Federal agencies need to be responsive to the American people, not special interests,” said Senator Shaheen. “As part of efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, more must be done to prevent conflicts of interest from interfering with work to create and enforce pharmaceutical regulations and to keep people safe. This legislation holds the DEA and FDA accountable to its mission and the public, and I hope we can make bipartisan progress on it in Congress.”

“As the opioid crisis continues to devastate communities across New Hampshire, we must do more to crack down on the big pharmaceutical companies that have played a significant role in creating this epidemic,” Senator Hassan said. “Big pharmaceutical companies have routinely hired former regulators to lobby the government on their behalf, and it is long past time we put new restrictions in place to help ensure that federal agencies are working to keep patients and the public safe, not pad the profits of corporate special interests.”

To slow that revolving door and help ensure that conflicts of interest do not erode the effectiveness of pharmaceutical regulators at the expense of patients and public safety, the Pharmaceutical Regulation Conflict of Interest Act will:

·        Expand Cooling Off Periods & Tighten Lobbying Rules: Increase the prohibition on former senior pharmaceutical regulators lobbying the federal government from one to two years and expand the definition of “lobbying contact” to include any lobbying activities and strategy.

·        Reduce Conflicts of Interest: Require pharmaceutical regulators to recuse themselves from any official actions that directly or substantially benefit the former employer or client(s) for whom they worked in the previous two years before joining federal service.

Text of the legislation is available here.