Misuse of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Monies by CDC Admitted

Released: 30-Jul-1999 12:00 AM EDT
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Centers for Disease Control Admits Misuse of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Monies

Contact: Mara Sheldon for The Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America, 202-518-8047 or 202-462-7288; mara@thgweb.com

WASHINGTON, July 28 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In an opening statement yesterday read at The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Coordinated Committee (CFSCC), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) admitted to diverting millions of dollars of Congressionally directed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) research money to other areas and then covering up the diversion.

"Resources intended for CFS were actually used for measles, polio and other disease areas. This was a breach of CDC's solemn trust and is in direct conflict with its core values," said Martha Katz, Deputy Director for Policy and Legislation at CDC.

CFSCC members, officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Inspector General's (IG) office gathered Monday for a special briefing to discuss the recent IG's audit of the misused CFS money and agreed on recommendations for how to resolve the situation and prevent mismanagement from reoccurring.

"We're concerned that the CDC's plan doesn't go far enough," said Kim Kenney, Executive Director for The Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America (CFIDS) and a CFSCC Member appointed by Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala. "The Committee's recommendations reflect a stronger response to CDC's mismanagement and appalling betrayal of public trust."

The May 10 IG report confirmed that the CDC "...spent significant portions of CFS funds on the costs of other programs and activities unrelated to CFS." The report went on to say that "CDC officials provided inaccurate information to Congress regarding the use of CFS funds, and have not supported the CFS program to the extent recommended and encouraged by Congress."

At the meeting, IG auditor Jeffrey Bullock stated that CDC used CFS research funds to "balance the books at the end of each fiscal year." Whistleblower Dr. William Reeves of the CDC reported that since making charges of fiscal mismanagement, he has experienced retaliatory actions, from which he should be protected. He has filed a lawsuit against CDC but continues to lead CFS studies for the agency.

In later discussion, Committee members agreed to recommendations which will formally be made to Secretary Shalala. These recommendations will:

-- Reinstate the $12.9 million misused between Fiscal Year 1995-98 over the course of Fiscal Years 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.

-- Require the CDC's Office of the Director to oversee the CFS program's budget and implementation of these programs for the next four fiscal years and that the operating plan and subsequent quarterly reports be given to Congress and shared with the CFSCC.

-- Keep the CFS program within the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases while dialogue and plans for the future of the CFS program at CDC continue.

-- Direct restored funds to be used for CFS public education programs with an emphasis on general public service announcements and specialized efforts to educate primary care providers about CFS.

-- Support a General Accounting Office study to expand the IG's audit by conducting a thorough review of the track record and course of CFS research at the CDC and NIH.

"These recommendations are just the first steps to remedy this situation and will hopefully squash any further abuse of CFS research efforts by the CDC, " Kenney said.

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CFS is defined as a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue, pain and cognitive problems not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity. Persons with CFS function at a substantially lower level of activity than they were capable of before the onset of the illness. CDC estimates more than 500,000 Americans are suffering from CFS today.

-0- /U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/ 07/28 17:56


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