The move capped several months of controversy over the role of the panel members, in particular, Howard Scher, an oncologist at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York. Scher was one of two FDA panel members who wrote the agency urging a go-slow approach. It so happens that Scher also serves on the scientific advisory board of ProQuest Investments, a venture capital firm that invested in Novacea, which is developing a rival cancer med.
Apparently, the publicity was too much for ProQuest. Since the congressmen released their Dec. 13 letter, the venture capital firm took down the page on its web site that named the members of its scientific advisory board. And so it's no longer easy to determine that the controversial Scher is affiliated with ProQuest. We've written two senior partners, including Jay Moorin, the founding general partner, for comment, but no one has yet responded. For his part, Scher has kept a very low profile over the past few months, declining to directly answer questions.