Reminder: Another top Eli Lilly executive called on the government to reduce regulations to increase drug company profits and “innovation”…is now Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services

Washington, DC – Today, Accountable Pharma responded to new comments from Eli Lilly chairman and CEO and PhRMA chairman-elect David Ricks in which he downplayed concerns over inappropriate pressure being put on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by, according to new reporting from Axios, saying that “the pharmaceutical industry will police itself when it comes to coronavirus treatments and vaccines.” Ricks’ comments come after the FDA spent the week attempting to restore its mangled reputation after Commissioner Stephen Hahn appeared with President Trump at a press conference that was widely panned as being politicized and as amplifying bad science, and it follows Hahn’s Sunday interview in the Financial Times in which he said that the FDA could fast-track a COVID-19 vaccine through an emergency use authorization before the end of Phase 3 clinical trials.

“The drug industry asking patients to trust them if they can’t trust the Trump Administration is like the wolf saying he’ll guard the henhouse if we don’t trust the fox,” said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for Accountable Pharma. “The revolving door between the drug industry and the Trump Administration has been spinning so fast that it’s hard to see where the interests of one end and the other begins. The public needs to be able to trust that decisions for the vaccine development process are being based on science and public health, and drug company self-policing simply isn’t good enough.”

Accountable Pharma has called for greater transparency at the FDA following previous instances of them bowing to inappropriate pressure from President Trump.

A timeline of political pressure on health officials

  • August 30: WaPo: “Inside Trump’s pressure campaign on federal scientists over a covid-19 treatment”
  • August 25: NPR: “FDA’s Hahn Apologizes For Overselling Plasma’s Benefits As A COVID-19 Treatment”
  • August 24: “Trump’s FDA Intimidation Campaign Pays Off With Politically-Convenient Announcement; Further Undermines Trust in Vaccine, Treatment Approval Process”
  • August 22: Trump dials up the pressure with another tweet “The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!”
  • August 19: Trump insinuates that FDA is trying to hurt him politically through delay: “It could be a political decision because you have a lot of people over there who don’t want to rush things because they want to do it after November 3”
  • August 18: “Trump Dials Up Pressure for Pre-Election Vaccine, Wonders if “Deep State” Will Delay Vaccine Announcement Until November 4th”
  • August 17: “Trump Pushes Another COVID-19 “Miracle Cure” Hawked By His MyPillow Buddy, Housing Secretary; Watchdog Urges FDA to Stand Up to Pressure”
  • August 6: “Watchdog Group to FDA: Patients Need More Than Words On Vaccine Safety Assurance; Supports Health Expert Calls for Additional Transparency”
  • July 15: “NEW REPORT – Operation Warp Speed at Two Months: $4 Billion for Drug Companies, Zero Assurances for Patients and Taxpayers”
  • June 25: “New Vaccine Report Highlights Trump Administration’s Drug Company Connections, Need for Vaccine Program Transparency”
  • June 24: “As Dr. Fauci Expresses Hope for Vaccine By End of Year, Patients Need Assurances That Trump Pressure Won’t Corrupt Development Process”
  • June 8: “Watchdog Calls for Independent Patient Advocate to Audit ‘Operation Warp Speed’”
  • May 26: “Lack of Transparency, Conflicts of Interest Surround Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” Vaccine Development Program”

Background on the Trump Administration’s history of applying pressure to health agencies 

Despite Commissioner Hahn’s claims that the FDA never bowed to inappropriate pressure…we know that that’s simply not the case: Washington Post: “FDA’s hydroxychloroquine reversal raises even bigger questions about Trump’s role in pushing for the drug…in its most significant walk-back to date, it has pulled that emergency use authorization (EUA) altogether. The decision Monday by the FDA now lends credibility to persistent suspicions that all of this was politicized from the beginning.”

Sec. Carson and MyPillow CEO Lindell Urged Trump to Support Oleandrin in July Oval Office Meeting. To the alarm of some government health officials, President Trump has expressed enthusiasm for the Food and Drug Administration to permit an extract from the oleander plant to be marketed as a dietary supplement or, alternatively, approved as a drug to cure COVID-19, despite lack of proof that it works…The experimental botanical extract, oleandrin, was promoted to Trump during an Oval Office meeting in July. It’s embraced by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell, a big Trump backer, who recently took a financial stake in the company that develops the product. Lindell told Axios that in the meeting, Trump “basically said: …’The FDA should be approving it.’” [Axios, 8/17/20]

July 2020: Trump tweeted directly at CDC Commissioner Hahn calling on him to “act now” on hydroxychloroquine:  “The highly respected Henry Ford Health System just reported, based on a large sampling, that HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE cut the death rate in certain sick patients very significantly. The Dems disparaged it for political reasons (me!). Disgraceful. Act now @US_FDA @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews.” [Twitter – President Trump, 7/6/20]

Headline: NBC News: “Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19: Scientists say it’s time to stop promoting the drug.” [NBC News, 7/30/20]

June 2020: FDA Reversed Emergency Use Authorization For Hydroxychloroquine. “And now, in its most significant walk-back to date, it has pulled that emergency use authorization (EUA) altogether. The decision Monday by the FDA now lends credibility to persistent suspicions that all of this was politicized from the beginning. In its decision, the FDA said, “It is no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulations of [hydroxychloroquine] and [chloroquine] may be effective in treating COVID-19, nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their known and potential risks.’”

Headline: Washington Post: “FDA’s hydroxychloroquine reversal raises even bigger questions about Trump’s role in pushing for the drug.” [Washington Post, 6/15/20]

Headline: New York Times: “A Mad Scramble to Stock Millions of Malaria Pills, Likely for Nothing.” [New York Times, 6/16/20]

April 2020: Director Of Key Federal Health Agency Forced Out After Resisting Political Pressure To Direct Funding To Hydroxychloroquine. “The official who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for rigorous vetting of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment, and that the administration had put “politics and cronyism ahead of science.” . . . “I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” he said in his statement. “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.’” [New York Times, 4/22/20]

Headline: New York Times: “Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster.” [New York Times, 4/22/20]

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