Lawrence R Huntoon, MD, PhD
In 2016 a group of more than a dozen senior scientists at the CDC lodged an ethics complaint against the CDC indicating that the CDC was being influenced “by corporate and political interests in ways that shortchange taxpayers.” It was noted that “the members of the group have elected to file the complaint anonymously for fear of retribution.”
The scientists noted the pervasive nature of unethical practices throughout all levels at the CDC. In their letter to Carmen S. Villar, Chief of Staff, Office of the Director, CDC, dated August 29, 2016, they stated:
“We are a group of scientists at CDC that are very concerned about the current state of ethics at our agency. It appears that our mission is being influenced and shaped by outside parties and rogue interests…. Some senior management officials at CDC are clearly aware and even condone these behaviors. Others see it and turn the other way. Some staff are intimidated and pressed to do things they know are not right. We have representatives from across the agency that witness this unacceptable behavior. It occurs at all levels and in all our respective units. These questionable and unethical practices threaten to undermine our credibility and reputation as a trusted leader in public health…. It is puzzling to read about transgressions in national media outlets like USA Today, The Huffington Post and The Hill. It is equally puzzling that nothing has changed here at CDC as a result. It’s business as usual.”
The CDC scientists noted that data in one program, the Wise Woman (WW) program, was manipulated and “cooked” so as to make the results conform to a desired outcome. The manipulated data was then misrepresented to Congress, and the CDC went to great lengths to cover up what they had done so that media and Congress would not find out.
Recently, the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) has been implicated in a “cover up” of inaccurate screening data for the Wise Woman (WW) Program. There was a coordinated effort by that Center to “bury” the fact that screening numbers for the WW Program were misrepresented in documents sent to Congress; screening numbers for 2014 and 2015 did not meet expectations despite a multi-million dollar investment; and definitions were changed and data “cooked” to make the results look better than they were. Data were clearly manipulated in irregular ways. An “internal review” that involved staff across CDC occurred and its findings were essentially suppressed so media and/or Congressional staff would not become aware of the problems. Now that both the media and Congresswoman DeLauro are aware of these issues, CDC staff have gone out of their way to delay FOIAs [Freedom of Information Act requests] and obstruct any inquiry.
The CDC scientists go on to reveal “questionable relationships” two named CDC doctors had with Coca-Cola and International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI).
The CDC scientists ended their letter by saying: “Why has the CDC OD turned a blind eye to these things? The lack of respect for science and scientists that support CDC’s legacy is astonishing.”
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