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Industry Challenges Impede Cancer Research
OMB Watch
Brian Gumm
August 28, 2007

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2007—Allegations of mismanagement, industry influence, and suppression of whistleblowers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) are being investigated by Congress, and the director has temporarily stepped down. Today, OMB Watch released a report that further documents industry's attempt to restrict access to health and safety information produced by NTP.

An Attack on Cancer Research: Industry's Obstruction of the National Toxicology Program illustrates how, over the past five years, industry has repeatedly misused the Data Quality Act (DQA) to suppress important cancer-related information. Among other duties, NTP publishes the biennial Report on Carcinogens (RoC), which is used by local, state and federal authorities to set environmental policies, explore regulations on dangerous substances and provide for preventative health measures.

"We discovered that industry has tried to use DQA to challenge every aspect of the NTP scientific review and release process," said Clayton Northouse, Information Policy Analyst at OMB Watch. "Special interest associations have challenged meetings, press releases, notices to study specific chemicals and other documents that are clearly beyond the parameters of DQA. Instead of seeking to improve the quality of data, the intent of these challenges seems to be to keep scientific information out of the hands of health professionals and government decision-makers."

The report documents how the latest RoC has been delayed for more than one year due to numerous frivolous DQA challenges. The industry challenges, though, do more than impede the flow of critical information to those who need it. The complaints also use up valuable staff time in a program with a small number of employees. This is time that should instead be used researching potential cancer-causing agents and safeguarding public health.

OMB Watch concludes the report with recommendations for NTP and other government programs and agencies regarding the implementation of DQA. The goal of the recommendations, Northouse said, is to "improve the quality of government data without diverting resources away from protecting the health and safety of the American public."

An Attack on Cancer Research is available online at http://www.ombwatch.org/info/NTPDataQuality.pdf.

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