HHS Doctor Claims He Was Demoted For Skepticism On Hydroxychloroquine

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Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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Editor’s Note: More information on this story has come out, the latest update can be found here.

A doctor researching vaccines and therapeutics for coronavirus claims he was demoted after expressing skepticism of hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness as a treatment, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Dr. Rick Bright served as director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) until his removal earlier this week. He has hired lawyers to represent him in a whistle-blower case and has called for the inspector general to investigate HHS for pushing the drug in an unsafe manner.

President Donald Trump has encouraged research of hydroxychloroquine as a potential coronavirus treatment for weeks, with studies alternately doubting or supporting its effectiveness. (RELATED: FDA Authorizes First Home-Collected Coronavirus Test)

“Contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit,” Bright wrote in statement Wednesday. “While I am prepared to look at all options and to think ‘outside the box’ for effective treatments, I rightly resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public.”

Bright has enlisted representation from lawyers Deborah Katz and Lisa Banks to represent him, the same pair who represented Christine Blasey Ford in her sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Bright was demoted from BARDA director and transferred to the National Institutes for Health this week. (RELATED: Michigan Governor Deems Gardening Supplies — Including Fruit And Vegetable Seeds — ‘Non-Essential’)

“Sidelining me in the middle of this pandemic and placing politics and cronyism ahead of science puts lives at risk and stunts national efforts to safely and effectively address this urgent health crisis,” he wrote.