GAO Says FDAers Experienced Political Interference In Scientific Decisions During Trump Era

GAO Says FDAers Experienced Political Interference In Scientific Decisions During Trump Era

April 22nd, 2022 // 1:34 pm @

FDA and CDC employees during the Trump administration told the GAO recently that they didn’t report political interference in their regulatory work because they were afraid of retaliation. This came out in a Government Accountability Office report this week.

The FOIA office at FDA released the report and also offered a glimpse of some behind the scenes moments of FDA’s political leaders and their wheeling and dealing during the Trump era. These events involved Trump’s efforts to get a COVID-19 vaccine authorization before the election and also efforts to push the hydroxychloroquine treatment.

The GAO has offered some updated recommendations about how the FDA, CDC, NIH, and ASPR can fight political interference as they make scientific decisions. This is being done with more training and updated SOPs.

The report reveals that workers at FDA, NIH and CDC told the GAO that they saw incidents that they deemed political interference but they didn’t talk about them because they were afraid of retaliation. They also weren’t sure how to report these issues and thought leaders of the agencies already knew.

The GAO says that the FDA and CDC could offer more information on how whistleblowers are protected and they could emphasize reporting methods for workers who think there is political interference in regulatory and scientific decision making.

The GAO also asked for more training because only the NIH has steps to deal with political interference in decisions involving science. This is a piece of their scientific integrity training.

However, none of the agencies that GAO has reviewed, including FDA, CDC, NIH and ASPR, have procedures that specifically deal with how to report political interference in scientific and regulatory decisions.

FDA leadership told the GAO that the agency did not have any reports of political interference in decision making between 2010 and 2021, FDA told the them that the agency will devise new procedures to rep;ort and address any issues with politics affecting scientific decisions.

The GAO has requested that the FDA commissioner make sure that there are procedures for addressing and reporting possible political interference in FDA’s scientific decisions. They also said the commissioner should make sure that FDA workers and contractors engaged in scientific work have been trained on how to deal with political interference in their scientific and regulatory decisions.

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