November 26, 2019

Senator Warren Voices Concern Over Brett Giroir Appointment as Acting FDA Commissioner

At HHS, Giroir Has Led Ideologically-Driven Attacks on Evidence-Based Health Policies

Text of the Letter (PDF) | Giroir Response to Warren QFRs (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Dr. Brett Giroir expressing concern regarding his recent appointment to serve as Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In her letter, the Senator outlined Dr. Giroir's troubling record as Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and requested that Dr. Giroir commit to making evidence-based decisions at the FDA. The FDA is responsible for safeguarding the public health by ensuring the safety and efficacy of drugs, biological products, and medical devices, free from political interference.

In answers to Senator Warren's questions during his ASH Senate confirmation process, Dr. Giroir committed to implementing "evidence-based programs," and "applying evidence and common sense to our policymaking process." However, despite these assurances, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health under Dr. Giroir's leadership has systematically rolled back programs scientifically proven to improve health outcomes.

As ASH, Dr. Giroir oversaw efforts to dismantle the Title X Federal Family Planning Program-the only federal program dedicated to providing family planning services to people with low incomes-and undermined the program by implementing a rule that imposes a "gag rule" on Title X providers, loosens the evidence-based quality requirements, and reduces access to care for patients. During Dr. Giroir's time at HHS, the Department has also made substantial efforts to weaken the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, re-writing the rules of the program to emphasize abstinence-only programming, and diverting federal funding from evidence-based programs to providers that promote ineffective abstinence-only education and offer non-FDA-approved reversal treatments for medication abortion.

"I have concerns about your appointment because during your time as the Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services, you have undermined evidence-based programs and promulgated policies based on political ideology-behavior that is antithetical to the very mission of HHS and the agency you are now charged with leading," wrote Senator Warren in her letter to Dr. Giroir. "Given your record of service at HHS, Congress and the public deserve assurances that you are committed to evidence-based decision-making and to upholding the scientific integrity of the FDA."

In her letter, Senator Warren called on Dr. Giroir to set aside politics during his tenure at the agency.

"As Acting Commissioner of the FDA, you are responsible for decisions that affect the health and safety of every American," the Senator continued. "You have not lived up to the commitments you made to Congress and the public prior to being confirmed to your current position at HHS, and you must do better at the FDA."

Senator Warren requested a written response confirming his commitment to evidence-based policymaking at FDA by November 29, 2019.

Dr. Giroir's answers to Senator Warren's Questions for the Record during his Senate confirmation process can be read here.

As a champion for women's reproductive rights, Senator Warren, in May 2018, sent a letter along with 200 colleagues to HHS Secretary Alex Azar expressing opposition to the implementation of a domestic gag rule on Title X. In March 2019, she led her colleagues in requesting a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to assess the potential harmful impacts of the Title X Rule. Last year, she authored an op-ed for TIME opposing President Trump's proposal.