CDC director misses 4th Congressional hearing due to conflict of interest

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, missed her fourth Congressional hearing since her appointment in July due to potential conflicts of interest, according to The Hill.

Dr. Fitzgerald divested many of her stock holdings when she took the position at the CDC but was not able to fully sell off certain assets due to legal obligations. Because of these holdings, she is unable to complete certain duties related to cancer and the opioid crisis.

Dr. Fitzgerald was scheduled to testify before the Senate on public health threats, but instead, she will send a deputy in her place.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee, drew attention to Dr. Fitzgerald's absences in a December letter and questioned how she could effectively fulfill her obligations considering these ethical dilemmas.

"On at least three occasions since your appointment in July, CDC has sent your deputies to testify at Congressional hearings, alongside the heads of other government agencies, which explored the federal response to the opioid crisis," Ms. Murray wrote. "At a time when the need for a comprehensive and ongoing response from the federal government is clear, Congress must be able to hold federal agencies accountable for their role in the response to the opioid crisis, which includes the head of the agency participating in relevant Congressional hearings."

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