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Science for sale - The Weinberg Group
Congress: Science for Sale? - 2008
Congress is investigating a Washington, D.C.-based firm which critics charge "manufactures uncertainty" on behalf of chemical companies to help keep their products free from government bans or other restrictions.
"The tactics apparently employed by the Weinberg Group raise serious questions about whether science is for sale at these consulting groups," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement Wednesday. His panel is heading up the probe.
The Weinberg Group may play a role in arranging just the kinds of expert panels and scientific research the chemical industry points to in defense of its products, Dingell suggested.
The chairman pointed to a confidential Weinberg Group document published in 2006, in which the firm suggested to DuPont de Nemours & Company several ways it could help "shape the debate" about one of its chemical products. The firm proposed developing "blue-ribbon panels," "constructing a study to establish" that DuPont's chemical was safe, and arranging the publication of papers "dispelling the alleged nexus" between the company's chemical and its alleged harmful effects on humans.
"We will harness...the scientific and intellectual capital of our company with one goal in mind -- creating the outcome our client desires," the 2003 letter stated. The company reportedly confirmed the authenticity of the letter to the publication which revealed it, Environmental Science & Technology.
The Science Fraud Industry: Weinberg Group Inc. - 2014
There are a few firms, but among the worst is the Weinberg Group. Weinberg has been hired by DuPont, the tobacco industry, makers of Agent Orange, and makers of asbestos to “develop legal defense campaigns, ostensibly based on science, to sway juries during trials, to counteract potential regulatory oversight, and to influence [public opinion] about the health effects of products,” reported Environmental Science & Technology Online News (ES&T).
A 2003 letter that was confirmed to authenticate a relationship between Weinberg and DuPont illustrates Weinberg’s practice of falsifying science and purchase of scientific opinion.
Science is for sale. Here is the Weinberg Group description from their page.
The Weinberg Group is the global leader in regulatory and compliance services, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. For over 34 years, we have provided biotech, medical device and pharmaceutical consulting services to companies of every size on every continent, supplying them with viable and efficient drug development pathways and compliance solutions.
Our experienced team of FDA consultants and FDA compliance consultants work with you to develop regulatory strategies and submissions; and remediate, maintain and improve regulatory compliance. Though much of our work is project-based, for some clients, we assume all regulatory responsibilities for a fixed monthly fee as a part of our Outsourced Regulatory Affairs (ORA) program.
The Weinberg Group’s pharmaceutical consultants understand the value of your new product pipeline and work with you to develop regulatory strategies that optimize likelihood of approval, minimize cost and increase speed to market. In many cases, we execute the strategy we design, providing literature research, preparing for and attending key FDA meetings, and developing regulatory submissions. Our depth of experience and knowledge of global and FDA regulatory affairs has helped us achieve a smooth and professional relationship with virtually every division in FDA and has paved the way for cooperation with EMA in reaching agreements on complex issues. Many of our services are also available for companies seeking to market their product internationally.
The seasoned FDA compliance consultants who make up our compliance practice each have at least 10 years’ experience in quality assurance (QA) auditing. Whether you need a GCP, GMP, GLP, PV audit, or a mock FDA inspection, we can help. Our auditors are strategically located throughout the world, giving us the capabilities to effectively and efficiently meet the challenges of our clients’ global auditing needs.
Over the years we have developed a simple approach to our work that guides each of our projects: the essence of successful drug development is the management of risk and the removal of uncertainties. We are driven to create successful regulatory outcomes that benefit the client and society – on time and within budget.
Environmental Science & Technology Online News, February 21, 2006 - THE WEINBERG PROPOSAL
Most scientists are completely in the dark when it comes to understanding how corporations manipulate science, says David Ozonoff, chair of the department of environmental health at Boston University. Ozonoff, who spent years studying the asbestos industry, recalls, "I went into [studying the asbestos issue] really thinking that industry can have its own interpretation of the scientific findings. It was the sociology of science and the social construction of knowledge, and they would naturally tend to emphasize certain things while workers would look at the same things differently." But as he sifted through letters and documents that came to light during court cases, Ozonoff found evidence that corporate executives had not only known for decades that asbestos was dangerous but they had outlined and put into practice a defense strategy to protect their product and company profits. "It was planned out in the documents in black and white," he says. "They thought nobody would ever see it."
"I have somewhat the same reaction to this letter," he said about the Weinberg memo to DuPont. "These are things that we know are going on."
For example, the Weinberg letter lists a series of proposed tasks designed to limit liability, including the recruitment of scientific experts on PFOA "so as to develop a premium expert panel and concurrently conflict out experts from consulting with plaintiffs." Experts who worked for DuPont through the Weinberg Group would have been unable to testify for plaintiffs.
"They're offering to get rid of inconvenient witnesses for the other side," says Ozonoff. He adds that he has received similar requests in the past from lawyers asking him to consult on cases. "I wouldn't have to testify," he says, "but I knew right away what they were doing was trying to conflict me out of a case."
The Weinberg Group also wrote the American Chemistry Council's (ACC) 2005 position paper on endocrine disrupters [448KB PDF]. ACC is the lobbying group for chemical manufacturers. One of the two coauthors of the report is James Lamb, who is an employee of the Weinberg Group and has also worked for industry on other chemicals such as perchlorate. In January, when the state of California held hearings to debate the health risks and possible use restrictions for six phthalates and bisphenol-A -- suspected endocrine disrupters -- in baby toys, Lamb testified that the chemicals were safe.
Vom Saal has been under attack for his work that finds that bisphenol- A poses endocrine-disrupting health risks to humans. In January 2005, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives published a letter criticizing vom Saal's recent research on bisphenol-A (Environ. Health Perspect. 2006, 114 , A16-A17). The letter was signed by Joseph Politch, a research associate in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University. Because of the journal's conflict-of- interest policy, Politch's letter noted that he was a consultant for the Weinberg Group.
But Glantz has studied Big Tobacco's impact on his profession for more than a decade, and he sees a much bigger problem looming for science. As the federal government cuts back on funding for research, scientists are now forced to rely more and more on financial assistance from corporations; this raises troubling questions about whether the results from these studies will be impartial and objective or favorable to the companies that paid for them.
"The whole scientific enterprise is being distorted by these corporate interests," Glantz says. "That's why it is so important that we have a healthy academic community, to be a voice that isn't being controlled.
Exclusive: 'Science for Sale' Probe Deepens - 2008
Another since-deleted case study investigators say they found told how the firm "debunked" cancer research indicating certain hair dye increased users' cancer risk. A third that investigators shared with ABC News related to how the Weinberg Group won its client the right to continue using chlorofluorocarbons, which are known to harm the environment, despite a global ban covering most sources of the substances.