Trump Endorsed a Risky Antidepressant for Veterans. Lawmakers Want to Know if His Mar-a-Lago Pals Had a Stake in the Drugmaker.

by Isaac Arnsdorf: For More Info, Go Here…

House Democrats requested emails and financial records as they investigate why the president told the VA to “corner the market” on a Johnson & Johnson drug.

House Democrats are expanding their investigation of outside influence at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, examining whether a push to use a new antidepressant from Johnson & Johnson was advanced by a group of unofficial advisers who convened at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club.

The chairmen of the House veterans affairs and oversight committees sent letters last week asking for emails and financial records from the three advisers, Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, physician Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman. The Democrats are seeking, among other documents, any communications the men had with Johnson & Johnson and financial records showing whether they had any stake in the company.

As revealed by ProPublica in 2018, Trump gave the three men sweeping influence over the VA despite their lack of any relevant experience, such as having served in the U.S. military or government. VA officials called the trio the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd” because they met at the president’s getaway in Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump has enthusiastically endorsed a drug called Spravato, made by Johnson & Johnson, as a treatment to help prevent veterans from committing suicide. The federal government has faced criticism for not doing enough to curb suicides by veterans, which the VA says occur at a rate of 20 a day. While the problem has persisted for years, it gained more attention after a series of deaths in VA parking lots.

On March 5, 2019, the FDA approved Spravato to treat depression. It is a nasal spray form of esketamine, a variant of the anesthetic ketamine. The FDA imposed restrictions on Spravato’s use because of “the risk of serious adverse outcomes” and “the potential for abuse and misuse.” The regulator took the unusual measure of requiring a health professional to monitor a patient for two hours after taking Spravato.

Leave a Reply