Stop Scientific and Professional Misconduct at the National Institutes of Health sign now

We, the undersigned, call upon the Congress of the United States to immediately launch a bipartisan investigation into allegations of gross scientific and professional misconduct at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and its Division of AIDS (DAIDS).

The allegations involve a documented attempt by NIAID officials to brazenly hide negligent research practices that jeopardized the safety, rights, and well-being of Africans with AIDS.

So egregious are deficiencies in the HIVNET 012 clinical trial that by any reasonable scientific standard they should invalidate the findings of the study. But they have not.

Evidence suggests that NIAID officials and HIVNET 012 researchers conspired to suppress any dissent among the Institutes medical experts who challenged the validity of the clinical trial. Furthermore, critical audit results that cast a doubt on the integrity of the trial were knowingly withheld from the White House in 2002 just as the President was preparing to launch a new $500 million African AIDS initiative based largely on the false and misleading information he received from NIH.

A preponderance of documents presented to Congress by NIH whistleblowers stand as grim evidence of a culture of nepotism and deceit which pervades NIH. They also point to a pattern of persistent misconduct, cover-up and denial which has shaken public confidence in this government agency.

Today, NIAID is surrounded by an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Management has shown little capacity to reform itself, preferring instead to bully its employees into submission with threats of reprimand and possible termination. Retribution against whistleblowers is commonplace with no regard being paid to the protections afforded them in both law and regulation.

It is clear to those who stand committed to the NIH mission that the agency is no longer able to effectively perform its job of providing honest, independent and thorough oversight of AIDS drug development.

Recent press reports have confirmed that a number of senior NIAID officials and the researchers they oversee violated the public trust by ignoring rules and regulations designed to protect the safety, well-being, and rights of human test subjects. These same officials have admitted to deliberately concealing the truth from the FDA, the American public, African governments and the President.

To this day, the NIH leadership continues to justify their actions by declaring that the research conclusions are valid despite multiple audit reports that indicate otherwise. By trivializing the outrageous nature of the studys conduct, the NIH ignores internationally recognized conventions for assuring the credibility of research data.

Americans and the international community alike should be outraged by this behavior. It strikes at the heart of Americas reputation for honest, independent and ethical scientific research. Faulty research, disguised through deceit, exacts a high cost on the public and the credibility of American medical research. Without the preservation of high research standards and intellectual honesty in clinical research, the health and safety of the public is placed in grave jeopardy.

As a result, the NIH has fueled suspicions about the intentions of American scientists around the globe and has set back the cause of AIDS research years, if not decades. Reform and new leadership can not come soon enough to NIH. Countless lives depend upon it.

Those responsible for covering up scientific misconduct must be held accountable. At stake is nothing less than the credibility of American medical research and with it a critical element of American foreign policy.

Congress must act now to bring the full story of NIH misconduct to light.

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Kendra BentonBy:
Technology and the InternetIn:
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U.S. Congress

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