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  • Washington Highlights

    Fetal Tissue Panel Issues Final Report

    Heather Pierce, Senior Director, Science Policy & Regulatory Counsel
    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach

    Republican members of the 114th Congress’s House Select Investigative Panel of the Energy and Commerce Committee Dec. 30 released a final report on the panel’s work investigating the transfer of fetal tissue and related matters. Delivery of the report marks the end of the panel, which was not reauthorized in the 115th Congress.

    The report describes the panel’s exploration of four “business models” relating to acquisition or use of fetal tissue and concludes with a set of recommendations for Congress to consider. As in an interim report released previously by majority members of the panel [see Washington Highlights, July 15], the final report includes a section asserting that fetal tissue is not necessary for medical research and recommending restrictions on the use of fetal tissue for research.

    In a Dec. 28 letter sent to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee in the 114th Congress, the Select Panel’s Ranking Democrat Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) submitted a separate report, “Setting the Record Straight: The Unjustifiable Attack on Women’s Health Care and Life-Saving Research,” on behalf of the Democrats on the panel.

    The Select Panel, established in Oct. 2015 to investigate allegations of the sale of human fetal tissue for profit, held two hearings [see Washington Highlights, March 4 and April 22] and issued letters of inquiry or subpoenas to several organizations [see Washington Highlights, April 1]. The AAMC submitted a statement for the record affirming the value of fetal tissue research for the panel’s March 2 hearing, and issued a letter to the Select Panel March 31, expressing concerns for the safety of researchers and trainees identified in documents requested by the panel.

    Also in December, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and the committee’s majority staff released a report of its independent investigation into fetal tissue research and transfer entitled, “Human Fetal Tissue Research: Context and Controversy.”