Political Lobbying Drove FDA Process

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WASHINGTON — The recent approval of a new device to treat knee injuries followed a lobbying campaign that overcame repeated rejections by scientists within the Food and Drug Administration, agency documents show.

The FDA’s internal dissent over Menaflex, which targets the most-common knee injury afflicting everyone from high-school athletes to baby boomers, is straining a government agency that oversees a quarter of the U.S. economy. Some senior FDA staff members complained in documents that the handling of Menaflex, made by ReGen Biologics Inc., shows how political and industry pressure can influence scientific conclusions.

At issue isn’t just the efficacy of the device — that remains in dispute — but the nature of the FDA’s own approval process.

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