Since 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has had the authority to allow access to unapproved medical products via the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) pathway during times of emergency. It was rarely used until the COVID-19 pandemic, when concerns arose regarding the role of political pressure in the FDA's issuance of some EUAs, such as for hydroxychloroquine. Although US government officials should be responsive to the public, democratic accountability must be balanced against the need for thoughtful science-based decision-making. Inadequate agency independence can diminish public confidence in government leaders and the FDA. To consider whether reform of the EUA process might be appropriate, we considered three possible sources of inspiration for balancing independence and accountability in government scientific decision-making: models in other countries, models in other US agencies, and models within the FDA itself. Strategies used in these settings include: (1) expanding the role of advisory committees, (2) increasing transparency of the agency's decision-making process and supporting rationale, and (3) improving management of internal agency disagreement. Such reforms could improve public trust in public health regulation both related to and separate from future emergencies.

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