Three House Republicans on Tuesday fired off letters to the Food and Drug Administration demanding answers about funded research on virus manipulation in laboratories and drug shortages, The Hill reported, posting links to the missives.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., and Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., sent one letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf asking for more information about the coronavirus, saying the agency has not answered all their questions about COVID-19 research.
"After Republican committee staff followed up, the FDA staff acknowledged in a Jan. 31, 2023, email response that some FDA research studies did involve virus manipulation, passaging of a virus, genetically modified animals, or making any mutations to a virus," the letter read.
While the FDA answered some of their questions, the agency did not provide any further details, the lawmakers wrote.
"To put these studies in context and to be able to assess the adequacy of FDA's oversight of potential risks in such experiments, we are requesting additional information," the letter added.
The group of Republicans asked the FDA whether the studies introduced mutations connected with the transmission of COVID and what the purpose of that introduction was.
The letter also questioned the agency on whether the studies went through reviews by an Institutional Biosafety Committee or a process known as dual use of concern — and what it looked like.
Republicans have long questioned the origins of the virus, with many backing a lab-leak theory that proposes the virus started inside a lab rather than in nature.
The lawmakers also wrote a letter requesting more information about U.S. drug shortages.
The lawmakers noted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act requires companies to report on the total annual amounts of drugs manufactured and how many were processed for distribution.
It also requires them to disclose where the drugs' active ingredients were manufactured.
The letter stated it is "not clear" what the FDA has done with the new data, saying there have not been summaries made of the reports.
"The FDA states that it monitors ongoing drug shortages and works closely with manufacturers and others in the supply chain to understand, mitigate, and prevent or reduce any related impacts," the lawmakers wrote.
"The FDA has also requested additional legal authority from Congress to gain additional access to medical supply chain information," the letter read. "However, it is not clear to the committee that FDA is effectively using its existing authorities."
The House Republicans want data on the total aggregated amount of drugs and more info on what drugs have a national shortage – specifically on shortages of drugs that treat asthma, cancer, tuberculosis, bacterial infections, and pain associated with aches and fevers.
The lawmakers gave an April 10 deadline for the FDA to respond.
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