As the newsletter notes, the FDA is supposed to respond to FOIA requests within 20 days, but there are exceptions. The FDA, typically, cites an extraordinary volume of requests, some of which are more complicated than others and can often require redacting. However, it is a standing complaint among lawyers, journalists and 'ordinary citizens' that the agency is often woefully backlogged.
Weinberg told the newsletter that he recently received a $95,000 bill for his October 24 request for 46,000 documents, but has yet to actually receive the documents. He tells the newsletter the bill is "a ridiculous amount of money, which means no freedom of information." It is worth noting, however, that the FDA does have the right to charge for processing requests, although waivers can also be pursued. Perhaps a wobbly analogy is in order - a state park is open to everyone, but an entrance fee is required.
In any event, here's an example of what Weinberg is seeking, according to the newsletter - documents to verify that Peter Honig, a former director of the FDA's Office of Drug Safety, who joined Merck in February 2002 as vp of risk management, sequestered himself from decisions regarding Vioxx label warnings while he was talking to Merck about the job. It's not yet clear, of course, but that might make interesting reading, yes?