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March 12, 2007
Volume 85, Number 11
p. 13

Conflict Of Interest

Consulting firm assisting review of bisphenol A risks also works for compound's manufacturers

Bette Hileman

Because of concerns over conflicts of interest, the interagency National Toxicology Program (NTP) has barred the contractor Sciences International from further work on a review of the toxicity of bisphenol A (BPA). SI has worked for at least 50 industrial firms, including BPA manufacturers Dow Chemical and BASF.

BPA is produced in high volumes to make polycarbonate plastic and resins. Widespread human exposure to the compound stems from use of polycarbonate polymers in food containers. More than 100 government-funded studies indicate it harms animals' reproductive systems, but about a dozen industry-funded studies found no effects.

NTP's Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction has been evaluating BPA's risks since last August. SI prepared the original draft report on the chemical for the center, helped select members of a review panel, and intended to moderate the panel's recent meeting on March 5–7. Unlike most consulting firms, which provide only logistical support for scientific panels, SI also wrote the draft report, says Allen Dearry, interim associate director of NTP.

On Feb. 28, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) wrote to NTP Director David Schwartz asking for an explanation of SI's role in the BPA review and disclosure of its potential conflicts of interest. As a result of this query, NTP initially suspended, and eventually barred, SI from further work on the review.

The NTP review panel was scheduled to reach interim conclusions on BPA's health risks by March 7 but did not have enough time to complete the task. It will meet again in about two months and will finalize its review in six months, Dearry says.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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