The Trump administration is pushing back on a Washington Post story that the federal government is moving to eliminate funding for a major UCSF research lab that tests new HIV treatments using fetal tissue.
The Post, citing anonymous sources outside the federal government, reported that the administration was ending the seven-year contract and that the decision was coming from the “highest levels.” That information reportedly came from an official with the National Institutes of Health.
"Unfortunately, the Washington Post chose to report assertions that are completely false," said Caitlin Oakley, spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services.
The HHS statement says no decision has been made about whether to extend or cancel the lab’s $2 million NIH contract. It said the story is based on “anonymous sources providing inaccurate information.”
However, the statement does confirm the UCSF contract is being audited for its compliance with regulations governing fetal tissue, which is mostly obtained from abortions.
The contract is set to expire today, and according to the Post, the NIH now says the contract would continue for 90 days while the review is underway.
The bottom line is that the laboratory's future is “very much in limbo,” according to Amy Goldstein, the Post’s national health care policy writer. She describes the lab as being central to nearly all early testing of HIV therapies approved by the Food and Drug Administration since the 1990s.