WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- CrossFit, Inc. announced today that it has filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel the release of emails from the Foundation for the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC Foundation) and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (NIH Foundation) concerning their legally-mandated transparency reports and the concealment of information about the donations both entities receive. The nonprofit U.S. Right to Know is also a plaintiff.
"During a health crisis, a country naturally turns to its national health institutions. And yet, instead of responding effectively to the problems of type-two diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, liver disease, opioid addiction and other chronic diseases, to name just a few, the NIH and CDC have been embroiled in numerous, high profile ethical scandals involving the very industries that have contributed to our Nation's chronic disease and opioid epidemics," the complaint asserts. "Concomitant with those scandals, the CDC Foundation and NIH Foundation have failed to comply with their legal transparency requirements, engaging in opaque partnerships with opioid manufacturers, soda companies, the NFL, and other corporations that represent major and direct conflicts of interest for any institution purported to care for the public's health."
The NIH Foundation and CDC Foundation were established by Congress in 1990 and 1992 to facilitate public-private partnerships, serve as a firewall between private resources and the NIH and CDC, and protect scientific integrity. Both are required by law to produce a report disclosing the sources and amounts of the donations they received, as well as restrictions on the uses of the donations. To date, each foundation has omitted such information from its published reports. CrossFit, Inc. discovered the foundations' noncompliance in March while investigating the soda industry's many attempts to manipulate the health sciences and unduly influence the scientific record on sugar. According to emails already obtained by CrossFit, Inc. through FOIA, CDC employees discussed whether the CDC Foundation could "skate by with types and amounts of contributions lumped together."
"We're left with no choice but to file suit," said Russ Greene, CrossFit, Inc.'s Director of Government Relations and Research. "We've exhausted all other remedies: we requested both the NIH Foundation's and the CDC Foundation's annual donor reports with the legally-required information - neither provided them. Through FOIA, we requested that they provide more information on their internal processes for creating and publishing these legally-required annual donor reports. Neither organization has been forthcoming. One CDC employee went so far as to ask whether they could continue to 'skate by' on their transparency requirements. That's disgraceful, and it's emblematic of the systemic lack of transparency at the CDC and NIH. It enables opaque conflicts of interest at agencies that Americans rely on for information critical to their health."
Last week, President Trump enacted legislation reprimanding the NIH Foundation and CDC Foundation for their noncompliance with the Public Health Service Act, directing both entities to include in their annual reports "the source and amount of all monetary gifts to the Foundation, as well as the source and description of all gifts of real or personal property. Each annual report shall disclose a specification of any restrictions on the purposes for which gifts to the Foundation may be used. The annual report shall not list 'anonymous' as a source for any gift that includes a specification of any restrictions on the purpose for which the gift may be used." CrossFit's efforts to bring this issue to light spurred Congress to action on this issue.
U.S. life expectancy has declined for two consecutive years. Initial data suggests a third consecutive year of decline. This is not the time for the CDC and NIH to continue to "skate by." As CrossFit Founder and Chairman Greg Glassman has said, "Let's start with the truth."
SOURCE CrossFit, Inc.