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  • Washington Highlights

    Research Community, Members of Congress Address HHS Regarding Fetal Tissue Research

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
    Christa Wagner, Manager, Government Relations

    The AAMC joined over 90 organizations representing medical and scientific societies and academic and research organizations on a July 11 letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, expressing concern over the department’s June 5 policy to limit the use of fetal tissue in research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) [see Washington Highlights, June 7].

    The letter reiterates that HHS’s new restrictions on NIH’s intramural research program and new or renewing extramural grant applications could “disrupt important biomedical research and delay the development of new treatments for patients.” The letter continues that the new policies “would impose substantial barriers to and limit the use of an essential biomedical research resource that has led to many advances in human health and remains critical for the development of new treatments for a wide range of serious diseases.”

    Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Patty Murray (D-Wash.) sent a July 17 letter seeking clarification from Sec. Azar regarding the department’s scientific rationale for the new policy. In the letter, the Members request specific information from the secretary by July 31, including documents related to the department’s review of fetal tissue research [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 28, 2018], meeting records that informed development of the policy, and various communications between leadership in the department and the administration.

    In response to the new policy, the House adopted an amendment by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) to the House fiscal year (FY) 2020 HHS spending bill to prohibit the use of appropriated funds towards implementation of certain provisions of the new policy [see Washington Highlights, June 14].