Lawyers and Medical Decision-Making

Merrill Goozner

First posted 6/28/11 on Gooz News

We’ve heard a lot over the years about the inappropriate role of lawyers in the medical system. The complaints usually center on trial lawyers who sue physicians for malpractice and drug companies for failure to warn consumers about unsafe drugs and devices. We’ve heard much less about lawyers who work for drug companies and try to game the regulatory system.

This latter problem was in full display this afternoon at the FDA hearing on Roche/Genentech’s appeal of the FDA’s decision to remove breast cancer from Avastin’s label.  Paul Schmidt, a Covington & Burling attorney representing Genentech, repeatedly tried to pin down FDA oncology drugs chief Richard Pazdur and his colleagues as to whether they had ever specified that replicating the progression free survival benefit seen in the first trial that led to accelerated approval would satisfy the FDA and therefore lead to permanent approval.

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