House panel probing Covid response seeks to question former FDA chief

According to its note to Hahn, the committee appears interested in questioning the former FDA commissioner about the time he is spending on regulatory approvals of controversial drug products, the development of the Covid-19 vaccine, and White House interference. in the FDA regulatory process. . Hahn did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Hahn was intimately involved in the FDA’s decision to approve hydroxychloroquine for emergency use during the pandemic. In the spring of 2020, Trump White House officials, including Trade Advisor Peter Navarro, began pushing for the use of the antimalarial drug as a potential cure for Covid-19 despite a lack of scientific evidence.

Hahn received a warning from his peers regarding the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine treatment for Covid-19, but the FDA only revoked the emergency clearance for both on June 15, according to the letter published by the committee on Monday. In the days that followed, Navarro threatened Hahn and accused the FDA of being “the deep state of shit,” according to the committee’s note to Hahn.

In another case, the FDA “rushed to issue an EUA for convalescent plasma,” according to the committee’s letter, written by President Jim Clyburn (DS.C.). This emergency use authorization was issued over objections from the National Institutes of Health.

“At the press conference announcing this decision, you… cited grossly inaccurate statistics on the effectiveness of plasma therapy,” the letter reads.

The letter also features numerous examples of how the Trump White House has attempted to interfere with the FDA’s work related to the pandemic, particularly its process for setting strict safety standards for the Covid-19 vaccine. Then-President Trump and others suggested that the FDA was demanding such high safety standards because of political motives.

“President Trump continued to insinuate that FDA decisions were influenced by the upcoming election,” the letter reads.

The committee set a December 6 deadline for Hahn to turn over the relevant documents and asked the former FDA commissioner to sit down for an interview on December 13.

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