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Janet Woodcock, a top FDA director (Jose Luis Magana / AP)

The Food and Drug Administration's controversial decision last year to approve a drug for Duchenne muscular dystrophy sparked divisions within the agency — with one former-high ranking official alleging that another top official ignored the FDA's normal scientific review, according to emails obtained by journalist Charles Seife and published at Undark.

The big email: John Jenkins, who used to be the head of the FDA's Office of New Drugs, sent a memo to former FDA Commissioner Robert Califf this past September. Jenkins alleged Janet Woodcock, the director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, undercut the expert team that questioned the benefits of the drug — eteplirsen, branded as Exondys 51 by Sarepta Therapeutics.

Jenkins' memo also said Woodcock was in close contact with Sarepta and the patient advocacy groups who desperately wanted the drug to get the green light, and she approved the drug before vital outcomes data was published.

Why it matters: The approval process for Exondys 51 appears to have been just as controversial behind the scenes as it was in the public eye.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.