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Instead of focusing on scientific health research to get their prescription drugs approved, a pharmaceutical company recently admitted to spying on a Food and Drug Administration director for more than two months in 2008. According to the company, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, admitted to hiring a private investigator in an attempt to find evidence of an improper relationship between the director of the FDA and the pharmaceutical company’s competitor. However, they maintain that the investigation was entirely legal.

Amphastar hired Kroll, a New York-based private investigating firm, to obtain information about Janet Woodstock, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, who oversees the agency’s new drug approvals. Furthermore, the private investigator also collected information on a second FDA official, Moheb Nasr, director of the FDA’s Office of New Drug Quality Assessment. Overall, Amphastar spent over $100,000 for the investigations and retrieved information about both Woodstock and Nasr, including education, professional background, birth date, and price they paid for their homes. Moreover, they also unearthed details about family members and previous business trips.

The case outraged investigators working for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) after they discovered the details when they requested documents from Amphastar in Fall 2009. Nevertheless, the company’s general counsel, Jason Shandell, said the investigation was entirely legal because it relied only on allegedly publicly available information.

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