A commentary recently published in The BMJ expressed the editors’ concerns with President Donald J. Trump’s policies, stating that the new administration’s pronouncements seem to lack “careful consideration” of the consequences for biomedical research and health care.
“We are particularly concerned that Trump’s administration is acting in ways that will suppress research and limit communication on scientific topics that it deems politically inconvenient,” Jose G. Merino, U.S. clinical research editor for BMJ, and colleagues wrote.
The authors warn that reform to the FDA will scale back the agency’s ability to ensure the safety and efficacy of approved drugs and that instant repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a viable alternative will have damaging effects.
Additional concerns included the communication restrictions being placed on the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior and the Department of Health and Human Services; the removal of scientific information from government websites; and the denial of climate change evidence by members of the president’s cabinet.
“These policy choices are at odds with a core principle that health policy decisions should be based on transparent and reproducible science,” they wrote.
The authors stated that while President Trump is not the first politician to “flout scientific principles or favor ‘alternative facts,’” they believe this situation is more worrisome.
“The United States is a powerful nation with a profound influence on the health of the world’s population,” the authors wrote. “That power and influence, if misdirected, will damage efforts to create a healthier, stronger world, one that supports women’s health, condemns torture and other human rights abuses, treats refugees and migrants with dignity and hospitality, and ensures that all people, especially the most vulnerable, have access to high quality health care.”
As for international matters, the authors believe that President Trump’s immigration policy will interrupt the natural and necessary scientific discourse while limiting training, practice and research of international physicians and scientists. The shortage of health care workers may worsen and a hiring freeze may terminate ongoing research and clinical missions. The authors argue that global health is one of the most important investments the U.S. can make to help create a healthier planet.
“BMJ’s ongoing campaigns for open science and open data, the health effects of climate change, and corruption and conflict of interest in health care are some examples of where conflict may occur,” the authors wrote. “At this early stage it seems unlikely that the administration will change its course and promote open discourse, based on respect for scientific evidence and data. But whichever way Trump turns, the scientific and health care communities must commit to serving the best interests of patients and the public.” – by Talitha Bennett
Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.