FDA commish responds to ‘deep state’ accusation and other criticisms

Aug. 25, 2020

The FDA was already fighting back concerns that President Trump could attempt to pressure the agency to approve a coronavirus vaccine too soon. Now, it's Trump himself heaving accusations that the agency is being influenced by other forces. 

On Saturday, Trump tweeted: “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!" 

Afterwards, several former and current FDA officials publicly decried the accusations. On Sunday, Scott Gottlieb, the FDA’s former commissioner, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” that he “firmly” rejects the idea that the agency would “slow-walk anything or accelerate anything based on any political consideration or any consideration other than what is best for the public health.”

The agency’s current commissioner, Stephen Hahn, has also stated that the FDA’s final OK for a vaccine will be based “solely” on science. 

Meanwhile, Hahn has also been making the rounds in the press to address growing criticisms that the he misled the public when announcing that the FDA has granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) to blood plasma therapy for COVID-19. During a press conference about the approval, Hahn stated that blood plasma could reduce deaths in coronavirus patients by 35 percent. But a host of medical experts have called that figure into question, saying that data released by the FDA doesn’t support that conclusion.

Tuesday morning, Hahn clarified that the 35 percent figure was based on the relative risk reduction of death and said that the agency will release more information about the FDA’s EUA decision.

“I have been criticized for remarks I made Sunday night about the benefits of convalescent plasma. The criticism is entirely justified. What I should have said better is that the data show a relative risk reduction not an absolute risk reduction,” Hahn tweeted.