Congress Needs To Investigate Reports of ‘Unacceptable Practices’ at NIAID, Editorial Says
Congress should launch an investigation to "clea[n] up the mess" and restore the reputation of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Division of AIDS "as a leader in essential research," a St. Petersburg Times editorial says (St. Petersburg Times, 7/26). An internal, nonpublic NIH report written in August 2004 and recently obtained by the Associated Press says that the Division of AIDS is "a troubled organization," that its managers "spend incredible amounts of time feuding" and engaging in other behavior detrimental to the agency's fight against HIV/AIDS, and that "turf battles and rivalries between physicians and PhD scientists" are widespread. The report also appears to substantiate many of the claims of former NIH employee Jonathan Fishbein, whom NIH hired to improve the agency's research practices but earlier this year decided to fire for alleged poor performance during a probationary period (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/5). "Such unacceptable practices within the division taints its research and impedes the global fight against the AIDS pandemic," the editorial says. Firing Fishbein -- NIH's "whistleblower" -- leaves "an even larger cloud over the agency's already waning credibility," the Times says, adding, "This is no way to run a publicly funded operation whose effectiveness depends as much on its credibility as its science" (St. Petersburg Times, 7/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.