Attorneys for a Health Department official, who was ousted from leading an agency dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak for questioning the use of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment, will soon file a whistleblower complaint alleging retaliation for his resistance to promoting the treatment touted by President Donald Trump.
What We Know:
- Rick Bright’s attorneys also accused the Trump administration of making “demonstrably false statements” about Bright to deflect attention from the reason for his removal earlier this week as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
- The complaints will detail “the retaliatory treatment to which he was subjected by HHS political leadership after raising appropriate science-based concerns about White House pressure on treatment and vaccines related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the lawyers said in a prepared statement.
“The facts and concerns raised by Dr. Bright are compelling and well-documented and soon they will be public.”
- The White House has declined to comment on Bright. HHS spokeswoman, Caitlin Oakley, noted in the first statement that last week, NIH announced a new public-private partnership “to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccine and treatment options”.
- “Dr. Bright brings extensive experience and expertise in facilitating powerful public-private partnerships that advance the health and well-being of the American people,” the statement said.
- Bright said that he believed he was removed from his post because he insisted that “the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic” be invested “into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines, and other technologies that lack scientific merit”.
- Hours after his statement was released, HHS said on Wednesday night, “It was Dr. Bright who requested an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for donations of chloroquine that Bayer and Sandoz recently made to the Strategic National Stockpile for use on COVID-19 patients.”
- Bright’s lawyers on Thursday said, “The administration is now making demonstrably false statements about Dr. Bright, one of the nation’s leading vaccine, drug and diagnostic experts, to deflect attention from its retaliatory removal of him as the Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).”
- A source familiar with Bright’s situation told NBC News that, “Dr. Bright and his team were insisting upon a randomized controlled clinical study because there was insufficient information on the benefit and the potential harms of the drug to patients with COVID-19.” The source added that implementing the emergency use authorization for the donated medications was a compromise between the two positions, and that Bright did so at the direction of the political leadership of HHS.
- Bright’s lawyers, in their statement Thursday, called him “an exemplary public servant as demonstrated by the multiple excellent performance reviews he has received to date”.
- An analysis earlier this week found no benefit in using hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, and that there were more deaths among COVID-19 patients in veterans’ hospitals who received hydroxychloroquine compared with those who were given standard care.
- On Tuesday, a panel of experts convened by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommended that doctors not use a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin in treating COVID-19 “because of the potential for toxicities”.
Bright’s note repeatedly accused the Trump administration of corruption.