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New head of Colombia’s drug regulator is told she can’t have job after all

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 01 September 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4713
  1. Miguel Jara
  1. 1Madrid

    The incoming head of Colombia’s National Drug and Food Institute has been told she can no longer have the job, despite overwhelming support for her appointment. Commentators have attributed the surprise move to pressure from the drug industry.

    The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, announced on 7 August that Claudia Patricia Vacca González, a well known pharmacist in the country and supporter of the rational use of drugs, would be the institute’s director.

    But on 20 August Dr Vacca, widely seen as a promoter of the rational use of drugs, issued a statement saying, “After two weeks in which there has been such celebration of my appointment, today it has been communicated to me that it will not be effected.”

    Carlos Jerez, president of the Colombian National College of Chemical Pharmacists, has protested in an open letter to President Santos about “the bewilderment” resulting from the cancellation of the appointment and says that he “regrets” the decision.

    In a second open letter Luis Guillermo Restrepo, president of the Colombian National Association of Health Professionals, said that his association is “surprised regarding the decision to not appoint Vacca.” The letter says: “This decision sheds doubt on the institution and undermines the trust necessary to carry out the important dialogue and agreement processes needed to tackle the serious health crisis facing Colombia.”

    He added: “We would really like to believe that your government would not allow improper interference or seek benefits from any part of this sector, but for now we are forced to express our reservations.”

    When asked further about the type of reservations he is referring to Dr Restrepo told the BMJ that “the pressure to change this decision could have come from the Association of Research and Development Pharmaceutical Laboratories (AFIDRO), which in the past has considered Claudia Vacca a danger.”

    Francisco de Paula Gómez, president of AFIDRO, said that his organisation had done nothing to block Dr Vacca’s appointment and that it did not have the power to change the president’s decision.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4713

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