BARDA Shake Up May Prompt Broad Review Of Politicization of Countermeasures Office
Rick Bright is requesting an inspector general investigation into his removal as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development, accusing the Trump administration of favoring politics over science when making COVID-19 funding decisions.
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US FDA's decision to revoke the COVID-19 emergency use authorization for two anti-malarial drugs keeps with commissioner Hahn's stated goal of moving fast to tackle the pandemic, but shifting course as new data comes available. FDA cited new evidence as well as a reanalysis of the data it initially based the EUA on as reasons for pulling the authorization. Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Alex Azar appeared to equate the EUA revocation as opening the doors for broader use of the medicine, potentially undermining FDA's own communication on the drug, in yet another example of political leaders complicating the science and public health response to COVID-19.
In a Congressional hearing reminiscent of the right-to-try law debates, Democrats praised ousted BARDA Director Rick Bright for whistleblowing on the political interference in COVID-19 drug decisions, while Republicans argued the government should lower its standards during a pandemic and permit more widespread use of experimental medicines prior to clinical data.
Beyond COVID-19: Ousted BARDA Chief’s Whistleblower Complaint Suggests Widespread Politicization of HHS Funding Decisions
Ousted BARDA Director Rick Bright's whistleblower complaint cites a long-pattern of political interference in scientific decisions making and could lead to overhauls in how BARDA and other HHS contracts are awarded to the drug industry. It could also impact how Congress funds BARDA, following a recent move by lawmakers to give the division more direct control of its funding.