FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn speaks as US President Donald Trump listens during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on April 21, 2020.
FDA pressed to fast-track potential treatments under Trump
03:06 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Trump administration officials had a “crusade against (the US Food and Drug Administration that) resulted in damaging consequences for the coronavirus response,” the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, led by Democrats, said in a report released Wednesday.

In its second wide-ranging investigation on the coronavirus pandemic, Democratic officials spoke with former FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, who told the committee in an interview that former White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro “exerted inappropriate pressure” on the FDA to reissue an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that then-President Donald Trump spent much of March and April 2020 promoting as a potential “game-changer” for Covid-19, according to the report. The President was personally singing the drug’s praises during White House briefings so much that doctors started hoarding it, causing states to enact strict restrictions limiting prescriptions.

The report revealed that Navarro, who is not a medical doctor, and Steven Hatfill, an adjunct assistant professor at George Washington University whom Navarro brought to the White House in January 2020 as a volunteer on Covid-19 research, were fighting with FDA officials including Hahn on the effects and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine – which has since been found to not work against Covid-19 and potentially cause heart problems and even a greater risk of death – and other drugs throughout the height of the pandemic.

Hahn told the committee Navarro “was very demonstrative about his belief that hydroxychloroquine would work, and was working, and that it had met the statutory standard for an (emergency use authorization) even after FDA revoked its authorization.” Hahn said Navarro selected data to prove the drug worked even though “it made no sense to continue the EUA in the setting of a Phase 1 trial that basically indicated that, in that setting, hydroxychloroquine didn’t work,” according to the report.

In a statement emailed to CNN, Navarro said: “The partisan House Select Subcommittee report ‘wrongly’ perpetuates one of the most deadly lies of the pandemic, namely that the safe and powerful therapeutic to treat COVID, hydroxychloroquine, was somehow dangerous. This lie persists despite abundant scientific evidence now to the contrary.”

Hatfill did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment. Asked if he felt the report adequately characterized his comments, a spokesperson told CNN that Hahn has no comment on the report; “his focus is on leading