Dr. Rick Bright, the government’s leading vaccine expert who was ousted last month, has filed a formal whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, alleging he was terminated for advocating scientific solutions to combat the coronavirus pandemic over unproven and potentially dangerous malaria drugs that the Trump administration aggressively pushed.

Dr. Bright is seeking reinstatement to his position as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) as deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response. He is also calling for an official investigation of his allegations that he was terminated in retaliation for speaking out against the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis.

In his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on May 14, Dr. Bright told lawmakers he believed his reassignment to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was retaliation for his resistance to making unproven risky malaria drugs available “on demand to the American public.”

Dr. Bright said that the Department of Health and Human Services’ strategy to combat the coronavirus spread was unfounded in science and a politically driven misuse of taxpayer money. He warned that the “window of opportunity is closing” to slow the spread of the virus due to the continued “lack of a coordinated response and a dearth of accurate, clear communication about the path forward.”

His warnings were echoed by Michael Bowen, the co-owner of a Texas mask-manufacturing company. Mr. Bowen testified that the U.S. government outsourced almost all of its manufacturing of masks and critical medical supplies to China and other countries. At the same time, he said, the government has repeatedly ignored warnings sounded by medical and industry leaders about the dangerous inadequacy of supplies.

“I’m a lifelong Republican, and I’m embarrassed by how that’s been handled,” Mr. Bowen testified. “Like Rick Bright said, it’s the scientists we need to be listening to, and we’re not.”

Dr. Bright told lawmakers that “there were some attempts to bypass that rigorous vetting process” of the drug hydroxychloroquine, which Donald Trump publicly endorsed as “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine” despite the lack of scientific evidence for that claim. `

On April 20, the same day Dr. Bright was removed from his BARDA position and transferred into a less influential NIH role, the results of a comprehensive study were published showing that COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine died at higher rates than those who weren’t given the drug. The results were so alarming that the study had to be cut short.

Dr. Bright said that the federal government should be leading efforts to find “safe and scientifically vetted solutions instead of funding projects that were promoted by cronies or politically connected companies.” He told lawmakers:

If we fail to improve our response now, based on science, I fear the pandemic will get worse and be prolonged. There will be likely a resurgence of COVID-19 this fall. It will be greatly compounded by the challenges of seasonal influenza. Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.

Dr. Bright’s warnings elicited a familiar anti-whistleblower response from Trump. Last fall and winter, Trump repeatedly sought to discredit and expose the intelligence official whose whistleblower accusations triggered the Ukraine scandal and impeachment hearings.

Sources: Washington Post, CNN, C-Span, Rev.com, CBS news

Massive Fraudulent Activity Predicted During Coronavirus Pandemic

Fraudulent attempts to profit during a health and economic crisis are not only immoral, but illegal. We expect there to be a tremendous amount of fraud and self-dealing resulting from the federal government’s recent heavy spending relating to the coronavirus pandemic. Lawyers in our firm are investigating fraudulent patterns of entities and individuals seeking to deceive state and local entities, as well as individuals and businesses, and are attentive to all threats of fraudulent actions and practices. If you have information of fraudulent activities, or need help with a potential claim, contact the authorities or seek legal counsel. You can contact one of the lawyers on our firm’s Whistleblower Litigation Team.

Beasley Allen Whistleblower Litigation Team

The Whistleblower Litigation Team has been in place at Beasley Allen for a good while to handle False Claims Act (FCA) claims. Due to our firm’s heavy involvement in whistleblower litigation there was a definite need for the creation of this team. Fraud against the federal government has been and continues to be a huge problem, involving many industries in this country. We expect the amount of fraud against the government to increase greatly during the coming months.

As we have consistently stated, whistleblowers are the key to exposing corporate wrongdoing and government fraud. A person who has first-hand knowledge of fraud or other wrongdoing may have a whistleblower case. Before you report suspected fraud or other wrongdoing – before you “blow the whistle” – it is important to make sure you have a valid claim and that you are prepared for what lies ahead. Beasley Allen has an experienced group of lawyers dedicated to handling whistleblower cases.

Lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team are Lance Gould, Larry Golston, Lauren Miles, Leon Hampton, Leslie Pescia, Paul Evans and Tyner Helms. If you are aware of fraud being committed against the federal or state governments, you could be rewarded for reporting the fraud. If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, you can contact a lawyer at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim.

This story appears in the June 2020 edition of The Jere Beasley Report. Read the Report online, download a PDF, and subscribe to be notified when new issues are released.

Jere Beasley

Jere Beasley, the founding member of Beasley Allen Law Firm, has practiced law as an advocate for victims of wrongdoing since 1962. He was the lead Beasley Allen attorney in the record $11.9 billion award against ExxonMobil Corp. on behalf of the state of Alabama.

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