A coalition of biotechnology company CEOs joined forces this week to defend the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, who was assailed by President Donald Trump during campaign events.
“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong,” Trump said in a call intended to bolster morale among his campaign staff. The comments have fueled concerns that the president continues to undermine guidance from career scientists.
In response, the chiefs of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Ovid Therapeutics and Global Blood Therapeutics, among others, expressed support for the director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who they say has been subject to “politically motivated attacks.”
Writing in a letter published in the medical journal Nature Biotechnology on Thursday, the executives expressed worry that the U.S.’s foremost health agencies had also become political targets. “Not only are these attacks completely unjustified, they risk intimidating and demoralizing the very people we all are relying on to help end the Covid-19 nightmare,” the letter said. “As such, they are irresponsible and a pose danger to us all.”
Over recent months, the biopharmaceutical industry has been increasingly vocal in its support of U.S. health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the scientists who work for them. They’ve committed to follow government guidance on how to report safety and efficacy data on and therapeutics — something that hasn’t always needed to be verbalized.
Why be so protective of their government counterparts? Because distrust doesn’t operate in a vacuum. If Americans don’t have faith in regulators and other checks and balances, they’ll lose faith in the products at the end of pipeline, too.
In fact, they already are. Only half of U.S. adults said they would definitely or probably get a vaccine for Covid-19 if it were available, according to September polling from Pew Research Center. That’s a marked fall from May, when more than 7 in 10 said the same.
This crisis of confidence could compound the effects of a pandemic that has already taken more than 220,000 lives across the nation.
And the drug industry is well aware that could be a threat to their business. What is the value in touting an FDA-approved drug without a trusted FDA?–Riley Griffin