This Tuesday, April 7, 2020, an archive photo shows a bottle of hydroxychloroquine tablets in Texas City, Texas. Friday, April 24, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned doctors against prescribing the malaria drug to treat COVID-19 outside hospitals or research centers. (Photo AP / David J. Phillip)
Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, on Tuesday filed the complaint with the Office of the Special Council, a government agency responsible for whistleblower complaints.
He alleges that he was reassigned to a lesser role because he resisted political pressure to allow widespread use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug favored by Trump. He said the Trump administration wanted to “flood” New York and New Jersey hot spots with drugs.
Bright also said that the Trump administration has dismissed his warnings about COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. He said he “acted urgently” to combat the growing spread of COVID-19 after the World Health Organization issued a warning in January.
He said he “had met resistance from HHS leaders, including Secretary of Health and Human Services (Alex) Azar, who seemed determined to minimize this catastrophic event.”
Bright alleges in her complaint that people appointed by politicians at the Department of Health and Human Services have attempted to promote hydroxychloroquine “as a panacea”. Officials also “demanded that New York and New Jersey be” flooded “with these drugs, which were imported from factories in Pakistan and India that had not been inspected by the FDA,” said the complaint.
But Bright objected to widespread use of the drug, arguing that the scientific evidence was not there to support its use in patients with coronavirus. He felt an urgent need to tell the public that there was not enough scientific evidence to support the use of the drugs for COVID-19 patients, the complaint said.
Last month, the United States Food and Drug Administration warned doctors about prescribing the drug, except in hospitals and research studies. On alert, regulatory authorities have reported cases of life-threatening cardiac side effects in patients with coronavirus taking hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, a related drug.
The decades-old medications, also prescribed for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, can cause a number of side effects, including heart rhythm problems, very low blood pressure, and muscle or nerve damage.
The complaint said officials who complained about Bright “refused to listen to or take appropriate action to inform the public accurately” and spoke to a reporter who was working on a drug story.
He said he had to inform the public of the lack of scientific data supporting his use, despite the drug pushed by the president during press briefings, “to protect him from drugs which, according to him, constituted a substantial and specific danger for public health and safety, ”indicates the complaint.
“As the death toll increases exponentially every day, Dr. Bright concluded that he had a moral obligation to the American public, including those vulnerable as a result of an illness caused by COVID-19, to protect him from drugs which, according to him, constituted a particular danger to public health and safety, ”said the complaint.
On January 20, according to the complaint, WHO held an emergency call to discuss the new coronavirus. He was attended by many HHS officials, including WHO officials who said “the outbreak is a big problem.”
Trump accused the UN agency of mismanaging and concealing the spread of the virus after it first appeared in China and said it would cut funding.
In the complaint, Bright says he wants to return to his position as director and conduct a full investigation.
An HHS spokesperson said it was Bright who requested emergency use authorization for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Bright, for his part, said he had insisted that the authorization be limited to a small group of patients, those hospitalized with COVID-19 confirmed under the supervision of a doctor.
Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.