In a Twitter post, Trump said the deep state “or whoever” at the FDA makes it very difficult for drug companies to recruit people into clinical trials to test vaccines and therapies for the new coronavirus.
The comment came after Reuters exclusively announced Thursday that a senior FDA official said he would step down if the Trump administration approved a vaccine before it was found to be safe and effective.
“Obviously, they’re hoping to delay the response until November 3. You have to focus on speed and save lives! Trump wrote, tagging FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn in the tweet.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was a “dangerous statement” and the president was “irrelevant” for accusing the FDA of playing politics.
The FDA could not be reached immediately for comment.
Drugmakers, in coordination with the FDA and the National Institutes of Health, are ramping up production while testing is ongoing to respond as quickly as possible with a vaccine against COVID-19, which has killed nearly 800,000 people in the world.
Trump often uses Twitter to criticize federal agencies, sometimes accusing them of being controlled by the “deep state” in an apparent reference to long-time staff who Trump believes are determined to undermine his agenda.
His tweet increases pressure on the FDA after Peter Marks, director of its Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said last week in a conference call with government officials, pharmaceutical executives and academics that he would step down if the agency was approving an unproven vaccine. .
Scientists, public health officials, and lawmakers fear the Trump administration will push the FDA to approve a vaccine ahead of the vote, even though clinical trial data does not support its widespread use.
Marks, whose division regulates cutting-edge biotech treatments, vaccines and gene therapies, told Reuters he was under no political pressure and that the FDA would be guided by science alone. If that were to change, he said Thursday, “I would feel compelled (to resign) because in doing so, I would be signaling to the American public that there is something wrong.
(Reporting by Linda So; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
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