Apr 23, 2020 - Health

House Democrats request IG probe into removal of top vaccine doctor

Frank Pallone.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) Photo: Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) sent a letter Thursday requesting that the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general investigate the removal of a doctor leading the federal agency tasked with developing a coronavirus vaccine.

Driving the news: Rick Bright, director of the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, claimed his removal was retaliation for his attempts to limit the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — drugs touted by President Trump and his allies — to treat the coronavirus.

  • Bright, who has also requested an inspector general investigation, wrote in a statement: "I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way."

What they're saying:

"I have been particularly concerned by the Trump Administration’s politicization of public health agencies. This most recent action, if true, further raises serious questions about the commitment of President Trump and his Administration to science and the public good as the government and the nation work to combat an unprecedented global health pandemic."
— Pallone to HHS Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm

Pallone sent four questions to HHS Principal Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm regarding Bright's removal:

  1. "Were all relevant federal laws and regulations followed in Dr. Bright’s reassignment, and did any prohibited personnel practices occur?"
  2. "Who made the decision to reassign Dr. Bright, and when was the decision made, including when was Dr. Bright notified of such decision?"
  3. "What reasons were given to justify Dr. Bright’s reassignment?
  4. "Did political considerations affect the decision to reassign Dr. Bright, including Dr. Bright’s actions and statements related to chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine?"
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