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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced a settlement agreement reached between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Dr. Rick Bright, the former Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).
While serving as BARDA director, Dr. Bright disclosed potential safety risks and the lack of efficacy associated with use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as therapeutic treatments for COVID-19. Dr. Bright also disclosed concerns about the government's pandemic response and about influence exerted by political and industrial interests on BARDA and HHS, both before and during the pandemic. After Dr. Bright's disclosures, HHS reassigned Dr. Bright to a non-supervisory position at the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Bright filed a prohibited personnel practice complaint with OSC alleging, among other issues, that the reassignment limiting his role in the government's pandemic response was retaliatory. Consistent with its standard practice, OSC conducted an investigation of Dr. Bright's allegations, and also helped encourage and facilitate a mutually agreeable resolution. Ultimately, the parties were able to settle the case, resolving Dr. Bright's whistleblower retaliation allegations.
“I am pleased that HHS and Dr. Bright were able to reach a settlement and move forward on mutually agreeable terms," said Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner. “OSC takes seriously its role in investigating allegations of prohibited personnel practices. A settlement in this matter is a good outcome and a testament to OSC staff's diligent work in helping facilitate a resolution."