Washington, DC – Today, Patients Over Pharma called for a speedy investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Inspector General into the Administration’s botched handling of Gilead Science’s request to send an investigational COVID-19 drug to China for clinical trials. According to reporting by Axios, Gilead may have violated federal law by shipping the drug without approval from HHS and there is a dispute between HHS and other Administration officials regarding whether HHS should have moved faster or if the delay was warranted to ensure that clinical trials produced the most useful data.

“We don’t know all the facts regarding this latest example of the Trump Administration’s incompetent coronavirus response, but with so much at stake and Administration officials pointing fingers at each other through the press, we need the Office of the Inspector General to step in immediately to conduct a full and independent investigation so that this doesn’t happen again,” said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for Patients Over Pharma. “This is especially important given Joe Grogan’s connections to Gilead and his refusal to recuse himself on issues connected to the company that paid him to lobby for higher drug prices and fewer safety regulations.”

On February 27, Patients Over Pharma called for Sec. Azar and Domestic Policy Council Director Joe Grogan to be removed from President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force given their extreme Big Pharma ties.

Background: Grogan’s Big Pharma Ties

Grogan Served As Top Lobbyist For Gilead, Including Work On How Much Federal Health Program Paid For Its Medicines, Immediately Prior To Joining Trump Administration. “Grogan worked as the top lobbyist for Gilead Sciences until he arrived at OMB last March, dealing with issues including how much federal health programs would pay for its medicines. Gilead was the company that in 2014 effectively set off the drug price controversy with Sovaldi, its breakthrough hepatitis C cure that cost $1,000 per pill and triggered a lengthy and highly critical Senate Finance Committee probe.” [Politico, 5/27/18]

Headline: Wall Street Journal: “Coronavirus-Drug Development Becomes a Top Focus at Gilead.” [Wall Street Journal, 2/12/20]

In Response To Prior Concerns About Conflict Of Interest Due To Lobbying Work, Admin Claimed Grogan Didn’t Need A Waiver Because His Role Would Affect Industry As A Whole And Not Just Gilead. “Joe Grogan — who has sweeping authority over drug pricing, entitlement programs and other aspects of federal health policy at the Office of Management and Budget — didn’t obtain a waiver from a directive Trump issued during his first week in office that imposed a two-year cooling-off period between lobbying and regulating on the same “specific issue area.” . . . The administration says Grogan didn’t need such a waiver because his OMB job doesn’t overlap with what he did for California-based Gilead. His new role, OMB says, affects policy for an entire industry, not simply the one company he worked for.” [Politico, 5/27/18]

Patients Over Pharma recently released an updated and expanded version of their BigPharmasBestFriends.org website, which reveals the latest on Trump Administration officials who made millions of dollars from the pharmaceutical industry, the number of pharmaceutical companies and lobbying groups represented in the Trump administration, the revolving door between the Trump Administration and the pharmaceutical industry, and more.

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