US lawmaker questions FDA on Elon Musk’s Neuralink investigation

A member of the US Congress has asked the Food and Drug Administration why it did not investigate Elon Musk’s Neuralink before clearing the brain implant firm to test its technology on humans.

a man in a suit

A US lawmaker has raised concerns about the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) inspection of Elon Musk’s Neuralink, a neurotechnology company developing implantable brain chips. In a letter to the FDA on Monday, Democratic US Representative Earl Blumenauer expressed worry that the agency overlooked ‘troubling evidence’ of animal testing infractions that had been reported since at least 2019.

Neuralink tested the device on monkeys and other animals before testing it on people. The company implants a brain chip that allows paralyzed individuals to control a computer using just their thoughts.
The lawmaker, who specialises in health policy, has asked the FDA why it did not inspect Neuralink before approving human testing.

Why does it matter?

This inquiry comes after reports about Neuralink’s animal testing, which has led some lawmakers to question the FDA’s oversight of the company. Reuters revealed last month that FDA inspectors identified flaws with quality controls and record-keeping for animal trials at Neuralink in June, less than a month after the firm declared it was approved to test its brain implants in people.

Last week, Elon Musk’s broadcast of a live stream on his social media platform X confirmed the first receiver implanted with a Neuralink brain chip is recovering well and showed him playing online chess with his thoughts. Noland Arbaugh, a 29-year-old who was paralyzed below the shoulders following an accident, also shared his life-changing experience on the video. Blumenauer’s demand for answers from the FDA is a significant development, as it suggests that there may be concerns about the safety and efficacy of Neuralink’s technology, particularly over animal testing violations.

The lawmaker, a member of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee added, ‘These alleged failures to follow standard operating procedures potentially endangered animal welfare and compromised data collection for human trials.’ The FDA said it would respond to these inquiries and address any concerns directly with Rep. Blumenauer.