MD Orgs to Stymie Trump If He Overrides FDA; Expert NMA Committee to Vet Vaccine Before Public Use
The NMA Can Stymie Vaccine
WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 24, 2020) - Although President Trump has threatened to override the FDA if the agency doesn't approve a COVID vaccine quickly enough, and specifically if it goes ahead with plans to adopt tougher standards for the emergency authorization of the drug, the National Medical Association (NMA) - and perhaps other major doctor associations - can stymie any such premature release, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
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Banzhaf notes that there is a growing caucus within the medical community - as reported by CNN, the Washington Post, CBS, WebMD, STAT, and others, and recently joined by former Vice President Joe Biden - calling for an independent commission, free from bias, including pressure from the President - to review the safety and effectiveness of any vaccine before it is widely administered.
More than ten days ago, Banzhaf suggested to the National Medical Association [NMA] - the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians and their patients - that the organization act to protect its patient members, and also its doctor members from law suits - by establishing an independent expert committee to evaluate any potential vaccine before it is released, and to warn its members if the new drug does not seem to be safe and effective according to generally accepted regulatory and medical standards.
The NMA has announced that it is forming just such a body, and Banzhaf is suggesting that other major medical organizations - including the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and others - take similar action to insure that any vaccine is thoroughly tested before it becomes widely available to the public, and is not rush prematurely for political reasons and pressure from the White House.
FDA's Decisions Have Been Influenced By Politicians
As the NMA's president, Leon McDougle said: "It's necessary to provide a trusted messenger of vetted information to the African American community . . . There is a concern that some of the recent decisions by the Food and Drug Administration have been unduly influenced by politicians."
If this organization, which is trusted among African Americans, recommends that Black physicians not administer a hurriedly-approved vaccine, and that Black patients not agree to receive it, it could significantly delay, if not completely halt, the distribution of a new COVID vaccine, predicts Banzhaf, noting that African Americans tend to be especially suspicious of governmental health officials, and have been infected - and died or become disabled from COVID-19 - in disproportionately high numbers.
If one or more additional major medical organizations joins with NMA in likewise reviewing the evidence regarding any new COVID vaccine, the effect would be even greater, argues Banzhaf.
On September 3, Banzhaf told top officials of the NMA that "if one or more major medical organizations - such as the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, American Academy of Family Physicians, National Medical Association, etc. - were to announce - as many experts have suggested - that it would recommend that its members not administer any vaccine which had not fully completed phase three trials unless a responsible body independent of the federal government and the President had endorsed it, that announcement would probably force the FDA to permit such a review or effectively prevent premature distribution of a potentially deadly vaccine."
Companies Seeking To Profit From New Vaccines
The need for independent experts to vet any new vaccine before it was released to the public was just increased by new disclosures that top officials in the administration, leading effort to release a virus at "warp speed," have financial ties to the companies now seeking to develop and profit from new vaccines.
Also, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus released a report documenting these clear conflicts of interest. The Subcommittee's Chairman, Rep. James Clyburn, stated that the documents "have heightened concerns that these advisers may have significant undisclosed financial conflicts of interest that, contrary to the administration's public statements, have not been adequately addressed."
Banzhaf suggests that doctors' moral duty to protect their patients extends to seeing that potentially dangerous vaccines are not administered to them prematurely, and that independent medical organizations are one of the few bodies many members of the public are likely to trust in view of all of the mistakes already made by the FDA, CDC, and other federal agencies, as well as increasing evidence of pressure from the President.