FDA administrators sought to brush aside evidence that CT scans may be killing thousands of patients a year, say agency scientists.
"I was first ignored, then pressured to change my scientific opinion, and when I refused to do that, I was intimidated and ultimately terminated," said gastroenterologist and former FDA consultant Julian Nicholas.
The controversy stems from a still-pending application by General Electric (GE) for the approval of CT (computed tomography) scans as tests for colon cancer. GE made the request because although the practice of screening healthy patients with CT scans has become increasingly common, many insurers remains reluctant to pay for it.
When the FDA moved to approve the request with minimum fuss, agency scientists objected that the increased cancer risk from the radiation involved in CT scans would outweigh any potential benefit.
Approval would "expose a number of Americans to a risk of radiation that is unwarranted and may lead to instances of solid organ abdominal cancer," Nicholas wrote in an email to the agency.
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