Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is pressing the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services on their handling of potential conflicts of interest arising from the appointment of a former pharmaceutical industry consultant to the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). Grassley also made the following comment:
“We need serious transparency when advocates for Big Pharma, especially those who’ve publicly promoted unconventional views about addressing obesity with prescriptions, are in charge of dietary guidelines. These guidelines will affect everything from school lunch to food stamps. The American public needs to have confidence that recommendations are in their best interest, not in the interest of drug maker profits.”
Recently appointed DGAC member, Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, has been paid tens of thousands of dollars by drug makers that manufacture weight loss and obesity drugs, including the producers of semaglutide and Ozempic. She has also promoted these products in media appearances. These facts raise concerns about financial ties and potential conflicts of interest that bear on her judgment as a member of the DGAC.
“The extent of Ms. Stanford’s existing financial incentives as she begins serving on the committee warrant questioning,” Grassley wrote.
In a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Grassley highlights the failures of both the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to follow the recommendations from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, which explicitly call for public transparency for conflicts of interest.
The senator is seeking the non-public Confidential Financial Disclosure reports for all members of the DGAC, and asking the Biden administration officials about how they intend to handle these potential conflicts.
Full text of Grassley’s letter can be found HERE.