Dr. Rick Bright, former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, was removed from his post amid the coronavirus pandemic when he pushed back against the demand to make the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine easily available to the masses to treat COVID-19.
Instead, Bright made the drug available for emergency use only and with "strict guidelines".
After Bright submitted a whistleblower complaint, the Office of the Special Counsel has uncovered a “substantial likelihood of wrongdoing” from the Trump administration in relation to retaliation against Bright, reports CNBC.
- After being removed from his former position, Bright was sent to the National Institute of Health to fill a post with less impact and responsibility.
- Bright said his "concerns were escalated when I learned that officials were pushing to make that drug available outside that emergency authorization". Bright said that after he shared this concern with the American public, it "escalated" to his removal.
- Bright alleged in his complaint that HHS officials "engaged in conduct that may constitute violations of law, rule, or regulation; gross mismanagement; a gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety; and censorship related to scientific research."
- The Office of Special Counsel replied in a letter, stating that they "emphasize that, while OSC has found a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing based on the information you submitted in support of your allegations your referral to the Secretary for investigation is not a final determination that the allegations are substantiated," and that Bright's claims remain under investigation until a report is given to the president and Congress.
- The HHS emailed a statement about the complaint, alleging that "[Bright's] whistleblower complaint is filled with one-sided arguments and misinformation. HHS is reviewing the complaint and strongly disagrees with the allegations and characterizations made by Rick Bright."