RICHMOND, Va. - A lawsuit challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration€™s (FDA) tobacco advisory committee has been allowed to continue by a federal judge, the Associated Press reports. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon dismissed the agency€™s motion to reject the lawsuit filed by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Inc. last year.
The suit claims certain members of the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee have financial conflict of interest and bias. Because of those allegations, the tobacco companies want the court to ensure the agency doesn€™t reply on panel recommendations.
"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," said the judge.
"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," Lorillard wrote in a statement.
Previously, Altria Group and other cigarette manufacturers had requested that the FDA take panel members off because of conflicts of interest. However, Altria isn€™t part of this suit.