Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protested Wednesday after being reassigned to the National Institutes of Health — in retaliation, he claims, for his reluctance to fast-track approval for hydroxycholorquine for treating coronavirus patients.
President Donald Trump has championed the use of hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin, based on anecdotal evidence that it has helped desperately ill patients. One Democratic state lawmaker from Michigan, Karen Whitsett, thanked the president for drawing attention to the treatment, which she claimed saved her life from the virus.
In a statement Wednesday, Dr. Bright, a vaccine expert at BARDA, said that he believed his reassignment came about because he “resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.”
Statement of Dr. Rick Bright: “Yesterday, I was removed from my positions as the Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response by the Administration and involuntarily transferred…
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 22, 2020
He added: “Specifically, and contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit.”
However, Politico reported that Dr. Bright’s reassignment had been “more than a year in the making,” though it added that the actual transition itself had been “abrupt.”
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) April 22, 2020
Politico also cited sources that said Dr. Bright had actually supported the acquisition of hydroxychloroquine treatments, and that BARDA had been too slow to respond to the coronavirus crisis.
Byron York of the Washington Examiner noted that Dr. Bright had hired attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks to represent him. They were the attorneys for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the key accuser against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
It appears Dr. Rick Bright is preparing for a good old Washington media fight. Has hired attorneys Debra Katz & Lisa Banks, last seen representing Christine Blasey Ford in Brett Kavanaugh confirmation battle. https://t.co/TSp8FeLtAd pic.twitter.com/AcQcsO8G62
— Byron York (@ByronYork) April 22, 2020
Clinical trials about the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin in treating coronavirus are currently ongoing.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
Correction: an earlier version of this article stated that Dr. Bright had resigned his new position; at the White House press briefing, it was made clear that he is still employed by NIH, even though, according to Politico, he has not accepted his position. He has protested his new assignment and asked the HHS Inspector General to investigate.