Using the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a case study, this report evaluates the use of advisory committees by expert scientific regulatory agencies.

When faced with difficult decisions about new drugs or medical devices, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is authorized to consult with advisory committees of independent experts. Advisory committees provide critical scientific insights and credibility for FDA efficacy and safety determinations.

Leveraging data on the frequency, outcomes, and deliberative process of FDA advisory committees, this new report describes the impact of expert advisory committees on FDA decision making. The research discussed the roles that expert advisors play in this essential public health agency, and the report makes evidence-based recommendations that policymakers can implement to make advisory committees optimally useful for the FDA. The FDA case serves as a framework for recommendations about how other expert agencies can best engage with expert independent advisory committees.

We hope that this report helps leaders in science-focused agencies to leverage expert advice in a way that informs and improves decision making.