WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, blasted the Biden administration for prioritizing environmental activism over life-saving research and Americans’ access to quality health care.
In November 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted several individuals, including officials from the Cambodian government, based on allegations of monkey smuggling. As a result of this investigation, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has effectively halted the import of all monkeys from Cambodia. Since 60 percent of the monkeys used for American biomedical research come from Cambodia, Cassidy raised serious concerns that the shortage of monkeys will delay the development of drugs, reduce access to needed medications, and make treatments more expensive for American patients. Cassidy also expressed concerns that manufacturers will turn to other countries, like China, to conduct time-sensitive research on drugs to make up for the United States’ monkey shortage. Click here to read the letter.
“While our country seeks to reduce the need for animal testing over the long term, such testing is still critical to ensuring that patients have safe, effective drugs,” wrote Dr. Cassidy. “We cannot cede global leadership in biomedical research to China by allowing China to establish a near-monopoly on non-human primate research. It is imperative that the White House ensure that all relevant agencies are coordinating to solve this problem, and that these agencies are transparent with Congress about their efforts.”
Additionally, Cassidy rebuked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its proposals to limit ethylene oxide (EtO), a chemical that is used to sterilize 50 percent of all medical devices and 95 percent of all surgical kits in the United States. EtO is the only sterilizer available for certain devices that cannot be sterilized with heat or radiation, such as endoscopes, syringes, and heart valves. These policies will have devastating impacts on domestic medical device manufacturing in the United States and exacerbate medical product shortages, threatening the lives of Americans who need access to these critical supplies. In pursuing these proposals, the EPA failed to address numerous concerns from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on their impacts. Click here to read the letter.
“I am alarmed at the reckless lack of coordination by the White House of its Executive Branch agencies and departments, which will result in American deaths in the name of addressing abstract environmental concerns… EPA’s process for developing its proposals was nothing short of irresponsible,” wrote Dr. Cassidy. “EPA’s failure to engage in rulemaking without considering interagency feedback is the latest in a series of actions by your administration to make policy proposals that impact the health care sector without consulting health care regulators.”