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.

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Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 19,497,292 — Total deaths: 723,854 — Total recoveries — 11,823,105Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 4,994,276 — Total deaths: 162,381 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid.
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.

Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid

President Trump speaking during a press conference on Aug. 8. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Saturday signed four executive actions to provide relief from economic damage sustained during the coronavirus pandemic after talks between the White House and Democratic leadership collapsed Friday afternoon.

Why it matters: Because the Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate federal spending, Trump has limited authority to act unilaterally — and risks a legal challenge if congressional Democrats believe he has overstepped.

7 hours ago - World

What's next for Lebanon after the Beirut explosion

Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Beirut residents are still clearing rubble from streets that appear war-torn, days after a blast that shocked the country and horrified the world.

Why it matters: The explosion is likely to accelerate a painful cycle Lebanon was already living through — discontent, economic distress, and emigration.