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Capitol Health Call
January 14, 2009

The Wrong Type of PR

JAMA. 2009;301(2):152. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.880

Some in Congress wonder if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) violated federal procurement and contracting laws when it awarded a no-bid public relations contract.

At issue is a $300 000 subcontract contract given to a Washington, DC, public relations firm with ties to the FDA official who arranged the deal. According to separate letters sent in November to then–FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, by members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the FDA awarded the contract to Alaska Newspapers Inc, an Alaska Native Regional Corporation that did not have to bid because of a federal diversity procurement set-aside program. However, the actual public relations work was subcontracted to Qorvis Communications, which specializes in crisis communications.

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