Did industry funding influence an FDA investigation into canine heart disease and grain-free dog food?

According to the FDA, the document shared by Freeman was generated by Tufts veterinary staff for use by Tufts veterinarians.

“The FDA has never requested that DCM cases reported to the agency be limited to certain types of diets,” an FDA spokesperson wrote in an email. “We welcome all DCM reports with a suspected link to food, regardless of diet type.”

Freeman has a long history of funding pet food companies, including Nestle Purina Petcare, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Mars Petcare. This is common in the field of animal nutrition, as much of the funding for pet food and nutrition studies comes from large pet food companies.

According to PubMed.gov, Freeman has produced scientific work funded by Hill’s and Mars since 2002 and Purina since 2004. Over the past 20 years, she has authored studies funded by these pet food companies approximately 30 time. In recent years, Freeman has included a more detailed conflict of interest statement than those seen in his earlier studies, which states:Over the past 3 years, Dr. Freeman has received research funding, given sponsored talks and/or provided professional services to Aratana Therapeutics, Elanco, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Nestlé Purina PetCare, P&G Pet Care (now Mars) and Royal Canin.

In response to questions about the Mars, Hills, and Purina payments and DCM cases that she presented to the FDA early in the investigation, Freeman said the following through US Media Relations: Tufts University: “I support the research that my co-authors and I have contributed to this body of work, and I have transparently disclosed the sources of funding for the work I conduct on this topic. I respect the scientific process and hope that continued advances in research will help clarify the association between diet and DCM.

Two other veterinary cardiologists — Darcy Adin of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and Joshua Stern of the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine — have also collaborated with the FDA. In an FDA update on the investigationthe agency named the three, saying that “FDA veterinarians worked with Drs. Lisa Freeman from Tufts University, Joshua Stern from UC Davis, and Darcy Adin from the University of Florida to learn more about their research results and the cases they encountered.

Emails obtained from a public records request indicate that the link between DCM and grain-free dog food was first suggested in 2017. In March 2018, Jennifer Jones, a veterinarian at the FDA responsible for the investigation, received an e-mail from a veterinarian. asking to “discuss our findings on dilated cardiomyopathy and dietary relationships in our clinic over the past year.

The emails show that the following month, Freeman, Adin and Stern discussed their clinical observations regarding grain-free dog food and DCM during a call with the FDA, after which Jones asked them to email him. email spreadsheets containing their case data.

Adin has participated in studies funded by Purina since 2018 and, since 2017, by the Morris Animal Foundation, a non-profit animal health charity founded by Mark Morris, Sr., which created the first food line for dogs produced by the company that would become Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Adin commented through University of Florida Public Relations that she had never directly received funding from the Morris Animal Foundation or Purina, but was a lead and co-author of studies of an unrelated heart disease, degenerative mitral valve disease, funded by the Morris Animal Foundation. .


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