NIH probes personnel issues at its hospital pharmacy

The National Institutes of Health has launched a probe into management and workplace issues at the pharmacy that serves its research hospital in Bethesda, Md., according to the Washington Post. 

Earlier this week, the agency temporarily removed at least four senior officials from the pharmacy department pending results of the investigation. 

The investigation focuses on complaints against the managers of the NIH Clinical Center's pharmacy, including that they foster a difficult workplace environment. 

James Gilman, who runs Clinical Center, told pharmacy staff in a meeting that the probe focuses on "potentially discriminatory and inappropriate conduct in the pharmacy,"  according to a recording of the meeting obtained the Post.

The managers have been temporarily removed so they do not influence the interviews that will be conducted with pharmacy staff over the next few weeks, Mr. Gilman said.

"The issues are very clear," Mr. Gilman told the employees at the meeting, according to the Post. "We have trouble keeping staff. Too many good people have left. Too many good people that we wanted to come didn’t, because they’re not sure it’s a good place to work."

A spokesperson for the NIH declined to name the managers, but said "the Clinical Center is working through some individual personnel matters in the pharmacy department. The reviews are not related to clinical quality or safety. There will be no impact of this workplace situation on patient safety or quality of care, which are our highest priorities."

The Clinical Center pharmacy has been in trouble before. In 2015, a whistleblower's complaint about potentially contaminated drugs triggered an FDA investigation that resulted in the suspension of compounding operations at the pharmacy. Those issues were resolved.

The Clinical Center is where many severely ill patients come to be treated with experimental treatments by the NIH's on-campus healthcare providers. 

Read the full report here

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