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Capitol Health Call
April 9, 2014

Sen Grassley: FDA May Lack Whistleblower Protections

JAMA. 2014;311(14):1389. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.3706

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acted without regard for employees’ whistleblower rights, according to a joint staff report released February 26 by Rep Darrell Issa (R, Calif), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Sen Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (http://tinyurl.com/m9ybjgu).

In 2009, several FDA scientists expressed concerns to Congress and the White House transition team that the agency was approving unsafe and risky medical devices. According to the report, when the FDA learned that scientists disclosed information about pending device applications, the agency began monitoring their computers at work. This allowed the agency to obtain sensitive information and protected communications between the scientists and their personal attorneys, Congress, and the Office of Special Counsel, which protects federal employees’ abilities to act as whistleblowers, stated the report.

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