November 18,2022

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Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515 

Wyden, Grassley, Cardin, Young Raise Conflict of Interest Concerns Related to National Academies Report on Organ Donation System

After Finance Hearing and Investigation Discloses Significant Oversight Failures in Transplant System, Recommendations from NASEM Report Reflect Positions of Those Who Appear to Have a Financial Stake in Their Implementation

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Senate Finance Committee members Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Todd Young, R-Ind., raised concerns regarding conflicts of interest at the National Academy for Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) after it published a report on the organ procurement and transplantation system that mirrored recommendations supported by industry groups.

“We write to express our concern about potential conflicts of interest among NASEM committee members,” the members wrote. “We are concerned that the NASEM report seems to align with the lobbying positions of UNOS and the AOPO, and that these recommendations will not address the concerns raised during our investigation.” 

The letter, written to NASEM President Dr. Victor J. Dzau, asks the body to provide information related to the development of the report, titled “Realizing the Promise of Equity in the Organ Transplantation System”, as well as financial interests of committee members involved in the development of the report, as it relates to entities involved in organ or tissue procurement or transplantation.

The letter follows a hearing held in August by the Finance Committee that found systemic failures at the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which is contracted to oversee the nation’s organ procurement and transplantation network, including 57 regional organizations known as organ procurement organizations (OPO). Despite a disturbing number of complaints and errors documented across the country each year, UNOS rarely exercises its authority to hold its members accountable.

The full letter can be found here.