Judge says FDA can't use advisory panel's report on menthol cigarettes, citing conflicts

MarketsAssociated Press

A federal judge says the Food and Drug Administration can't use an advisory panel's 2011 report on menthol cigarettes because its members had conflicts of interest.

While the FDA has since conducted an independent review on the public health impact of menthol cigarettes, Monday's ruling could hinder the agency's ability to defend any future regulations.

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U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington ordered the agency Monday to reconstitute the tobacco panel and barred it from using its older report on menthol cigarettes.

Cigarette makers Lorillard Inc. and Reynolds American Inc. sued the agency in 2011, alleging conflicts of interest and bias by several members of the panel tasked with advising the FDA on tobacco-related issues.

Only one of the members challenged in the suit remains on the committee.