FDA struggles to remain independent amid race for virus cure - (Politico via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Peter Marks, who most recently oversaw the FDA office that approves vaccines and gene therapies, quit last month just days after joining President Donald Trump's Operation Warp Speed, a venture partnering government with private companies in the race tp develop a COVID-19 vaccine, reported Politico.

  • He returned to his old FDA job full time after a clash with White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx about how the government was prioritizing potential vaccines during a tense meeting of the White House coronavirus task force, according to three people familiar with the event.

  • A memo to FDA staff said Marks was returning because the White House had assembled enough other experts to do the job. However, "that was nonsense," said a current administration official familiar with Marks' thinking, adding "he actually quit in disgust."

  • According to the news source, Marks' abrupt switch was the latest sign of the FDA's struggle to fend off outside political pressure, particularly from the White House, amid the desperate search for a coronavirus cure.

  • In a statement, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn denied that political pressure had influenced his agency's coronavirus response. "The FDA has remained an unwavering, science-based voice helping to guide the all-of-government response. I have never felt any pressure to make decisions," he said.

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