Age cited as reason for ‘purge’ in FDA press office

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Jim Dickinson of Dickinson’s FDA WebView (paid subscription) writes that some recently ousted FDA public affairs officers claim their terminations appear related to their age. The target of their ire is Beth Martino, appointed FDA associate commissioner for external affairs in March.

Beth Martino

Beth Martino

According to Dickinson, Martino “has conducted an unprecedented purge of senior specialists, all aged over 50, in her office and in the Press Office.” Martino was an aide to Kathleen Sebelius when the HHS secretary was governor of Kansas. Dickinson says his sources allege the removals were made to make room for younger people closer to Martino’s own age, which he cited as 31. “She’s uncomfortable with people who know more than she does,” he quoted some of them as saying.

Ira Allen, who was hired in November 2009 as an FDA press officer, writes about his recent experience; he was told to choose between termination and resignation from the job.

The FDA has been under fire on several fronts over the past several years, including a report that concluded the agency “suffers from serious scientific deficiencies and is not positioned to meet current or emerging regulatory responsibilities,” allegations that the agency ignores whistleblowers and requirements that journalists and FDA employees notify or obtain permission from an agency official to conduct an interview.

Covering Health has sent an e-mail requesting comment to Martino and will share any response.

(H/T to GoozNews)

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