(CBS/AP) A federal judge has denied a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) motion to dismiss a suit filed by two of the nation’s largest cigarette makers that claimed the advisory panel that reviewed tobacco products for the FDA had financial conflicts of interest.
In an order posted Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington said that the suit filed by Lorillard Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. can move forward. The suit filed last year alleges financial conflicts of interest and bias by several members of the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee and asks the court to stop the federal agency from relying on the panel’s recommendations.
The panel is tasked with advising the FDA on tobacco-related issues, including the public health impact of menthol cigarettes and dissolvable tobacco, two industry growth areas.
“Because of the limited number of viewpoints on these issues, the scientific — as opposed to political — nature of those viewpoints, and the distinct responsibilities of the committee, I believe I have sufficient standards which I can evaluate the agency’s discretion,” Leon wrote in his order.
Representatives for the FDA and R.J. Reynolds would not comment on pending litigation.
In a statement, Lorillard said: “The practice of appointing members to a government scientific advisory committee who have financial interests that violate conflict-of-interest laws and regulations should be subject to judicial review, as the court has now recognized.”