Republican lawmakers are demanding answers about secret royalty checks that were issued to hundreds of National Institutes of Health scientists, including the agency’s leader, Dr. Anthony Fauci, by drug makers and other third parties. Not surprisingly, the Democratic leaders who oversee the NIH aren’t saying too much about the $350 million payments.
The nonprofit government watchdog Open The Books recently reported that Fauci, along with former NIH Director Francis Collins and hundreds of other NIH scientists, received up to $350 million in undisclosed royalty payments from pharmaceutical companies and other private firms in the decade leading to 2020. These figures were based on thousands of pages of documents they accessed through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed in a federal court by Judicial Watch on their behalf.
Despite the FOIA lawsuit, the NIH has been resisting sharing the information. They agreed to release just 300 pages a month despite having more than 3,000 pages of disclosure information pertaining to the royalty payments. Moreover, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said they insisted on handing over the documents related to Dr. Fauci last. Those documents won’t be released until some time in November.
In response, The Epoch Times reached out to Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Finance, along with Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The two panels are the main vessels of congressional oversight for the NIH. Neither lawmaker responded to the publication, nor did an NIH spokesman who they reached out to multiple times for comment.
The royalty payments, which are typically paid for work on new drugs, could represent a significant conflict of interest and violation of federal ethics laws and regulations because the NIH gives out billions of dollars in research grants to researchers and medical institutions each year.
During the period studied, NIH and NIAID head and Chief Presidential Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci was given 23 royalty payments, while Collins received 14. Fauci’s deputy, Clifford Lane, received eight payments during the time studied.
While Democrats don’t have much to say to the press about the matter, several Republican leaders have expressed serious concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called the report “disturbing” and said that if it is true, Americans deserve answers.
Representative Greg Steube of Florida, meanwhile, called for an investigation, saying: “Of course it’s a direct conflict of interest for scientists like Anthony Fauci to rake in $350 million in royalties from third parties who benefit from federal taxpayer-funded grants.
“Anthony Fauci is a millionaire that has gotten rich off taxpayer dollars. He is a prime example of the bloated federal bureaucracy. This royalty system should be examined to ensure it isn’t making matters worse.”
Representative Buddy Carter of Georgia concurred, telling The Epoch Times: “Dr. Fauci should have been fired a long time ago, and that remains true today.” He identified several abuses of trust of the American people by Fauci and the NIH, including lying about gain of function research and “walking back” COVID-19 claims.
Senator Marsha Blackburn had harsher words for the situation. She told the publication that “the NIH is a dark money pit. They covered up grants for gain of function research in Wuhan, so it is no surprise that they are now refusing to release critical data regarding allegations of millions in royalty fees paid to in-house scientists like Fauci.
“If the NIH wants to keep spending taxpayer dollars, they have a responsibility to provide transparency,” she added.
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