The Food and Drug Administration has announced that it is returning "to active duty status" an official who accepted entertainment from a Washington-area company when the agency was taking actions crucial to the firm.
Microbiologist Mary Bruch, who has been on "nonduty status with pay" since May 29, has been assigned temporarily to the National Institutes of Health.
Bruch's paid suspension had followed disclosures by staff members of the House subcommittee on oversight and investigation that Bruch had been entertained on numerous occasions between 1974 and 1979 at restaurants and race tracks by Burton, Parson & Co. of Seat Pleasant.
At the time, Bruch allegedly was directing the agency in decisions that permitted Burton, Parsons to gain control of the manufacturing and marketing of various cleansing and purifying solutions specified by the FDA for use with soft contact lenses.
In a news release, the FDA said that Bruch was informed last Friday in a letter from Assistant Secretary of Health Edward Brandt that "she would be returned to active duty status . . . pending resolution of the personnel action proposed by FDA Commissioner Arthur H. Hayes Jr. MD."
Asked what the "personnel action" entailed, an FDA spokesman said, "That's what we can't talk about."
The proposed action was initially spelled out in a letter to Bruch on June 12, and she was given 15 days to respond. Now Bruch has been given an extension until July 6 to respond, according to the spokesman.
Once Bruch responds, Hayes will make recommendations to Brandt, "who will decide what to do about it," the spokesman said.