Heath and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote a memo this week giving him authority over all new rules and banning any of the health agencies, including the FDA, from signing any "regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products, including vaccines," the New York Times reports.
Why it matters: The story further underscores reporting that health and scientific agencies are undergoing a deep politicization as the Trump administration races to develop a coronavirus vaccine, as Axios' Caitlin Owens reported. Dr. Peter Lurie, a former associate commissioner of the FDA, told the Times the Azar memo amounted to a "power grab."
What they're saying: Brian Harrison, Azar's chief of staff, told the Times the changes were simply a "housekeeping matter."
- "This was simply pushing a reset button. This is good governance and should have no operational impact.”
- HHS did not immediately return a request for comment.
Other outside experts believe that the memo could further hinder scientific voices. The CDC this week reversed course on a controversial policy concerning coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people, which was reportedly posted to the agency's website over the objections of scientists.