August 28, 2020 at 1:39 PM EDT
The FDA removes chief spokeswoman following convalescent plasma controversy
The Food and Drug Administration’s chief spokeswoman, who has been in the job less than two weeks, was removed from her role as of noon Friday, according to a senior administration official.
It remains unclear whether she will remain at the agency in some capacity, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Emily Miller formerly worked for One America News, a conservative cable news network, and for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). She does not have a health or science background and has been a strong advocate for gun rights.
“Effectively immediately, Emily Miller will no longer serve the FDA as the assistant commissioner for media affairs and will no longer be the official spokesperson for the agency,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn wrote in an email to senior managers. “I will appoint someone to an acting role in that position in the interim.”
In addition, Wayne Pines, a longtime communications consultant, confirmed that his contract to advise Hahn on communications strategy was ended Friday.
Pines said in an interview that he had urged Hahn to correct erroneous statements that the commissioner had made Sunday that exaggerated the efficacy of convalescent plasma during a news conference with President Trump at the White House. The event was held so Trump could announce the FDA’s emergency authorization of plasma as a treatment for covid-19.
Hahn, as well as Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, have been sharply criticized for the way they described plasma’s potential benefits. Scientist say the plasma might offer a modest benefit and is not a breakthrough.
“I advised the commissioner, as I would do so again, to correct the record to clarify points about the efficacy of plasma,” Pines said in an interview. “I’m an advocate, as I always have been, for transparency at the agency. The public needs to have confidence in the FDA.”
A spokeswoman for HHS declined to comment.
By Laurie McGinley and Yasmeen Abutaleb