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Critics Prevented From Speaking

The US National Institutes of Health has barred two doctors from speaking with investigators from a government inquiry, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the Journal, two NIH doctors, Charles Natanson and Peter Eichacker, criticized how an NIH-funded study into sepsis was being carried out, which then led the consumer group Public Citizen to issue a critical report about the trial as well. Among the concerns were that the Crystalloid Liberal or Vasopressors Early Resuscitation in Sepsis, or CLOVER, trial's approach to compare new treatment approaches to the established one wasn't sufficient.

That report, in turn, led the Office for Human Research Protections to launch a review of the trial, the Journal says, adding that Lawrence Tabak, the principal deputy director of NIH has prevented OHRP from speaking with Natanson and Eichacker. "The agency has the responsibility to choose people to respond on behalf of the NIH. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech," Tabak says.

The NIH committee argues, though, that doctors' ability to critique others' work contributes to both ensuring study quality and the safe development of new treatments, the Journal adds.