Tobacco Industry and the Data Quality Act

Published today in Science:

The Tobacco Industry and the Data Quality Act
Science 17 August 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5840, p. 898

Regarding Donald Kennedy’s Editorial on the Data Quality Act (“Turning the tables with Mary Jane,” 4 May, p. 661), it is important to emphasize that the Data Quality Act is an industry-led initiative that gives private industry access to raw data from federally funded research. The Data Quality Act does not give independent researchers access to industry data to examine the completeness or accuracy of industry-generated research. The Editorial did not mention the leadership role that the Philip Morris Company played in the genesis of the Data Quality Act, as documented by Baba et al. (1).

In the mid-1990s, after failing to obtain raw data from federally funded researchers by asking for it or suing them, Philip Morris worked to change regulations governing the release of such data. They drafted model data access legislation in 1996 (1). In 1997, they met with the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness to seek support for their proposed legislation from the business coalitions that were already fighting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s outdoor air regulations (1). Part of Philip Morris’s strategy was to form a coalition of industry supporters including the American Petroleum Institute, the National Rifle Association, and the Electric Power Research Institute. The Data Access Act was passed in 1998, followed by the Data Quality Act in 2000. Philip Morris then hired lobbyist Jim Tozzi to draft model guidelines for the agencies and meet with major companies to teach them how to use the new regulation to their benefit (1). The effects that the tobacco industry has on government regulatory process are still underestimated.

Suzaynn Francine Schick
Department of Medicine
University of California at San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

Lisa Anne Bero
Department of Clinical Pharmacy
University of California at San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94118, USA

Daniel M. Cook
School of Public Health
University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557, USA

1. A. Baba, D. M. Cook, T. O. McGarity, L. A. Bero, Am. J. Public Health 95 (suppl. 1), S20 (2005).

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