MEDICAL EXPERIMENTS: VA Plans Strict Research Oversight
Hoping to placate lawmakers alarmed over "the secret use of veterans as medical guinea pigs" that prompted federal suspension of research at one of the largest veterans hospitals in the nation, the Department of Veterans Affairs is expected today to unveil a fix-it plan for its mammoth $1.1 billion research program. The Washington Post reports that VA Undersecretary for Health Kenneth Kizer will testify before a joint hearing of two House VA subcommittees and is expected to outline what some officials say are "some of the strongest controls imposed on any medical research program involving humans in the federal government." Kizer will announce the "creation of an independent Office of Research Compliance and Assurance to review all VA research efforts," and detail the VA's commitment to fund "an outside program to accredit all of the department's research programs." The Post reports that a presidential review panel and the HHS inspector general have called for such an accrediting program, but until now "no federal agency had been willing to fund" it. "The silver lining in this is that what we are putting in place is going to lead the country in compliance," Kizer said, noting that he hopes other federal agencies would follow the VA's lead. As for how researchers would greet the new internal and external reviews, Kizer said, "I have no doubt that investigators at some place will complain about it" (McAllister, 4/21).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.