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  • Washington Highlights

    GOP Senators Request Audit of HHS-funded Fetal Tissue Research

    Len Marquez, Senior Director, Government Relations

    Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and 34 Republican colleagues sent an Oct. 6 letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General Daniel Levinson calling for a full audit of all fetal research supported by HHS to determine whether there have been violations of the law and how the agency verifies compliance.

    Noting “an unacceptable response” from the department on Aug. 14, “which failed to address many of the substantive questions raised” in a July 22 inquiry from 50 senators to HHS, the letter states, “The Department does not appear to have conducted any internal investigation of their own research practices or any audits or other oversight of their contractors, suppliers, and grantees with regard to their compliance with fetal tissue research laws and instead relied on assertions of compliance.”

    The letter requests the audit specifically examine “the Department’s oversight of contractor and grantee compliance with the laws governing fetal tissue research.” The senators ask the Inspector General to determine, for fetal tissue used in connection with projects funded or conducted by HHS, what third parties conducting research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have paid for fetal tissue, how prices are set, and how they determine whether they are in compliance with federal law.

    The audit also is to determine how HHS verifies third-party entities’ certifications and/or assurances regarding compliance with federal law, and what kind of certifications and assurances are obtained by NIH and FDA. The senators also ask if HHS has knowledge of any violations of federal law in connection with research conducted by third parties but funded by HHS?

    Co-signers of the letter include Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.),Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), John Thune (R-S.D.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).