CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME: Funds Misspent, Says HHS Report
A new "highly critical" report from the HHS inspector general reveals that the CDC spent about 39% of $23.4 million budgeted for chronic fatigue syndrome research on other diseases, "then lied to Congress about it," affirming the charges of a CDC whistleblower last summer. Inspector General June Gibbs Brown's report noted that Congress explicitly told the CDC to broaden its CFS research to minorities, children and adolescents, "and to add a specialist in brain-hormone interactions to its research staff." The audit said that "[d]espite congressional encouragement for these efforts, at the time of our audit, CDC had discontinued its adolescent study and had not hired a neuroendocrinologist. International correspondence ... indicated that delays were forced due to a 'lack of available funds.' Yet, we found that large portions of budgeted CFS funds had been held in reserve." The report also said "CDC officials provided inaccurate and potentially misleading information to Congress concerning the scope and cost of chronic fatigue syndrome research activities." While CDC Director Jeffrey Koplan did not dispute the charges, he said the CFS funds "were spent in extremely important disease areas, such as measles, poliomyelitis, and human papilloma virus." But, he added, "While CDC is not legally prohibited from spending funds budgeted for CFS on other programs, we acknowledge the importance of complying with the intent of Congress and providing correct information to Congress." Kimberly Kenney of the Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Association of America, said, "We are asking Congress to restore the funds over a three-year period" (Knox, Boston Globe, 5/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.