Aug 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

FDA removes top spokesperson after 11 days on the job

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday ousted its top spokesperson, Emily Miller, after less than two weeks on the job, reports the New York Times.

Why it matters: Miller's removal comes amid disagreements over the FDA's communication strategy and controversy surrounding its emergency use authorization of convalescent blood plasma as a coronavirus treatment.

  • "Effectively immediately, Emily Miller will no longer serve the FDA as the assistant commissioner for media affairs and will no longer be the official spokesperson for the agency. I will appoint someone to an acting role in that position in the interim," according to a memo from FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, obtained by Politico.

The big picture: Scientists and public health experts were up in arms after Hahn inflated the effectiveness of blood plasma as a COVID-19 treatment.

  • Hahn owned up to a mistake while also addressing bigger-picture concerns about the FDA's political independence.

Worth noting: On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services ended the contract of Wayne L Pines, a public relations consultant who had advised Hahn to correct the misleading information on convalescent plasma.

  • HHS told the Times that the termination of Pines' contract had nothing to do with the FDA's plasma messaging. It was "100 percent coincidence," Brian Harrison, the department’s chief of staff, said.

What's next: It's unclear whether Miller, a former reporter for One America News, will leave the administration completely or be reassigned elsewhere.

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