Reports related to mefloquine

Remington Nevin filed this request with the Defense Health Agency of the United States of America.
Tracking # 2016-009 ; 14-1966 ; 14-F-1276 ; 2014-152
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Appeal

Communications

From: Remington Nevin

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

All documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD Pharmacoeconomics Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Remington Nevin

From: TRICARE Management Activity

The request has been forwarded from one agency to another agency or department for further review or follow up.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 10, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Marye, Charles

Dear Remington Nevin: This is an interim response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated July 10, 2014, which was received in this office on August 12, 2014.  Your request has been assigned case number 14-F-1276 and we ask that you use that number when referring to your request.  We received your request from the Defense Health Agency, who referred it to our Office. I have determined that you should be placed in the "other" category for fee purposes as you have indicated that you do not seek access to these records for commercial purposes. The "other" fee category affords you two hours of search time and 100 pages of duplication free of charge. As you did not provide any willingness to pay, search will be halted after your two free hours have been expended. If you wish to add a willingness to pay, please contact the action officer assigned to your request at your earliest convenience.
We will be unable to respond to your request within the FOIA’s 20 day statutory time period as there are unusual circumstances which impact on our ability to quickly process your request.  These unusual circumstances are:  (a) the need to search for and collect records from a facility geographically separated from this Office; (b) the potential volume of records responsive to your request; and (c) the need for consultation with one or more other agencies or DoD components having a substantial interest in either the determination or the subject matter of the records.  For these reasons, your request has been placed in our complex processing queue and will be worked in the order the request was received.  Our current administrative workload is 1554 open requests.
If you would like to discuss how to limit your request in order to speed the processing time, we would be pleased to discuss how you might modify your request.  The action officer assigned to your request is Charles Marye at (571) 372-0407. The toll free number for this Office is 866-574-4970. You may not be aware that we maintain a website and electronic reading room at: http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/
Thank you,
Charles Marye Office of Freedom of Information
Department of Defense
1155 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1155
FAX: (571) 372-0500

From: Remington Nevin

Defense Freedom of Information Policy Office

Attn: Mr. James Hogan

1155 Defense Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20301-1155

Re: Freedom of Information Act Appeal, Case #14-F-1276

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby appeal the denial of my fee waiver request as described in your letter of August 15, 2014 on the basis that it can be demonstrated that disclosure of the requested information would substantially benefit the public interest.

As described in the original FOIA request, the requested information pertains to “documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD Pharmacoeconomics Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014”. In substantiation of the claim that release of the requested information would benefit the public interest, it can be demonstrated that: 1. The requestor has utilized similar information to inform both Senate testimony and invited commentary to the Food and Drug Administration on the use of mefloquine within the Department of Defense, and 2. These efforts have led to widespread media attention focusing attention on patterns of widespread misprescribing of mefloquine within the Department of Defense, and the associated health risks of such misprescribing (see, e.g. popular media stories at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/elite-army-units-to-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug/ and http://www.cbsnews.com/news/some-us-troops-haunted-by-anti-malaria-drugs-side-effects/ where the requestor is directly quoted).
These facts reasonably substantiate that release of the requested information to the requestor would constitute an act “significantly contributing to the public’s increased understanding of the operations and activities of government”.

In accordance with 5 USC § 552 (a)(4)(A)(ii)(II), fees or FOIA requests “shall be limited to reasonable standard charges for document duplication when records are not sought for commercial use and the request is made by an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, whose purpose is scholarly or scientific research; or a representative of the news media. As such, should your agency deny my request, this requestor is nonetheless entitled to a waiver of any search fees, and the costs of your agency’s compliance with my request must be limited to the actual costs of duplication.

Although your agency has claimed the existence of 3 “unusual circumstances” justifying the extraordinary delay in responding to this request, 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(B) permits your agency only an additional 10 days to respond to my request even in the presence of such “unusual circumstances”. Additionally, on the basis of the information requested, it is questionable whether 1 of the 3 “unusual circumstances” identified by your office may reasonably apply to this particular request.

You note one “unusual circumstance” is the “potential volume of records responsive to your request. This request asks only for “documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014” which are “related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD” produced by three agencies or offices: 1. The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, 2. The Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and 3. The DoD Pharmacoeconomic Center.
Although it is not plausible that these three agencies or offices, or their designees, generated a large “potential volume of records” that were “related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD” during this 11 month period, in order to further expedite your processing time, please consider this appeal as clarification to interpret the original FOIA request as limiting the “potential volume of records responsive” to this request to those documents and other material specifically related to the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Remington Nevin

From: TRICARE Management Activity

The request has been forwarded from one agency to another agency or department for further review or follow up.

From: TRICARE Management Activity

The request has been forwarded from one agency to another agency or department for further review or follow up.

From: MuckRock

Hello Mr. Marye,

The attached request was originally submitted to DHA and was subsequently forwarded to DoD, which assigned it case number 14-F-1276. An appeal was submitted but was not acknowledged. Follow up communications have been received from the DHA. Could you please confirm that your office received the appeal and provide an update regarding the status of both the request and the appeal. It would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for your help.

From: Turner, Alisa N CIV WHS ESD (US)

Dear Mr. Nevin,

I am responding to your inquiry, that you originally sent to Mr. Marye, regarding the receipt of your appeal of 14-F-1276. We received your appeal of the fee waiver denial on September 9. 2014.

We began processing your appeal and discovered that you were appealing a fee waiver which was never formally denied. Consequently, I coordinated with the OSD/JS FOIA Office Action Officer to get the status. During that coordination, I found out that your FOIA request 14-F-1276 has already been tasked to the Program Office and is currently undergoing a search and review. The Action Officer also believes that the search will fall in the 2 hour window and fees will not be an issue.

Therefore, I am asking that you withdraw your appeal of a fee waiver with the knowledge that there will be no charge for the response to this request. I ask you to withdraw your fee waiver appeal of 14-F-1279 for the same reasons.

Please let me know if you are willing to withdraw these two appeals. If I do not hear from you by COB Thursday the 25th, I will close the appeals as I will believe you are no longer interested.

Thank you.

Alisa N Turner
FOIA Appeals Team Chief
Freedom of Information Division
571-372-0445

From: Turner, Alisa N CIV WHS ESD (US)

Good afternoon,

Since I have not heard from you regarding these appeals, I plan to administratively close them on Monday the 29th.

Thank you.

Alisa N Turner
FOIA Appeals Team Chief
Freedom of Information Division
571-372-0445

From: Remington Nevin

Dear Ms. Turner,

Thank you for your messages of September 18, 2014 and September 26, 2014. Due to a high volume of FOIA requests I am often unable to respond quickly to correspondence from agencies requiring my immediate attention. I understand that my appeal of my fee waiver request denial for FOIA request #14-F-1276 is being closed prematurely on the basis that a search for “documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD Pharmacoeconomics Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014" is actively underway and is anticipated to be completed within 2 hours of search time and that there will be no charge for the response to this request.

Although I reserve my right to challenge the withdrawal of my appeal, I shall defer any such action for 30 days pending what I understand to be the imminent completion of this request. Thank you very much for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Remington Nevin

From: TRICARE Management Activity

The request has been forwarded from one agency to another agency or department for further review or follow up.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 10, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-F-1276 ; 2014-152.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock

Hello,

Per the attached communication, this FOIA request, copied below, was forwarded to your office. Could you please confirm receipt and provide an estimated date of completion? It would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much for your help.

From: Remington Nevin

Robert Dickerson
Chief, Freedom of Information Act Office
Attn: AAHS-RDF
7701 Telegraph Road, Suite 150
Alexandria, VA 22315-3905
Re: Appeal of constructive denial of FOIA request dated July 10, 2014, subject: “Reports related to mefloquine”

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act. I am writing to appeal the constructive denial of a request originally made to the Defense Health Agency (DHA) on July 10, 2014 and copied to your office on October 27, 2014 after the original receiving agency failed to forward it to your office as required. The request remains formally unacknowledged by your office as of the present date.

The Freedom of Information Act provides an agency no more than thirty days to respond to a request. When an agency fails to respond within that statutory timeline, it has constructively denied the request. (See Oglesby v. U.S. Dep't of Army, 920 F.2d 57, 65 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (“Congress adopted the time limit provision in the FOIA in order to ‘contribute to the fuller and faster release of information, which is the basic objective of the Act.’” (quoting H.R. Rep. No. 93-876, 93d Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted (1974) U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 6267 at 6271))).

As may be confirmed at the public website MuckRock (https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/minutes-of-epi-chiefs-teleconference-meetings-referencing-mefloquine-13554/), a FOIA request for “[a]ll minutes from any "Epi-Chiefs" teleconference meeting hosted by the GEIS division of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC), now a component of the Defense Health Agency (DHA), from July 1, 2012 to the date of processing of this request, which reference the antimalarial drug mefloquine (also known as Lariam).”) was submitted to the DHA on September 23, 2014 and was acknowledged by that office in a letter from Ms. Doritha Ross, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, on September 24, 2014. In this letter, Ms. Ross noted that the requested records “would be maintained under the U.S. Army”, but did not specify any attempt to route or forward the original request to your office.

An email that included the full text of the original request was then sent to your office on October 27, 2014. A reply was received that same day noting that “[t]his office has not received this request from DHA”.

Following this, two follow-up messages that again included the full text of the original request and requesting acknowledgement of receipt were sent, again the same day on October 27, 2014, and then a month later on November 26, 2014. Despite this, no acknowledgement of receipt or replies have been forthcoming from the Department of the Army.

Although DHA had clearly failed to forward the original request to your office as required, your office has been in possession of the full text of the request since at least October 27, 2014. This constitutes a properly submitted request for records under the FOIA as of this date.

Section 6(a)(1) of the OPEN Government Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-175, 121 Stat. 2524, provides that in the case of misdirected and routed FOIA requests, the twenty-day working day time period to process a request begins not later than 10 days after the request is first received by the appropriate agency component. As your agency has not met the statutory time requirement in responding to my request, additional provisions of section 6 of the OPEN Government Act of 2007 shall apply, including the provision that "[a]n agency shall not assess search fees (or in the case of a requester described under clause (ii)(II) [of 5 USC § 552 (a)(4)(A) as described above], duplication fees) . . . if the agency fails to comply with any time limit… if no unusual or exceptional circumstances… apply to the processing of the request."

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation with this matter. I look forward to receiving a response to my original request no later than January 18, 2015.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

Robert Dickerson
Chief, Freedom of Information Act Office
Attn: AAHS-RDF
7701 Telegraph Road, Suite 150
Alexandria, VA 22315-3905
Re: Appeal of constructive denial of FOIA request dated July 10, 2014, subject: “Reports related to mefloquine”

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act. I am writing to appeal the constructive denial of a request originally made to the Defense Health Agency on July 10, 2014 and forwarded to your office on or about September 10, 2014, and then reforwarded by your office on October 1, 2014 to the U.S. Army Medical Command. The request remains formally unacknowledged by the U.S. Army Medical Command as of this date.

The Freedom of Information Act provides an agency no more than thirty days to respond to a request. When an agency fails to respond within that statutory timeline, it has constructively denied the request. (See Oglesby v. U.S. Dep't of Army, 920 F.2d 57, 65 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (“Congress adopted the time limit provision in the FOIA in order to ‘contribute to the fuller and faster release of information, which is the basic objective of the Act.’” (quoting H.R. Rep. No. 93-876, 93d Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted (1974) U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 6267 at 6271))).

As may be confirmed at the public website MuckRock (https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/reports-related-to-mefloquine-12509/), a FOIA request for “[a]ll documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD Pharmacoeconomics Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014.”) was submitted to the Defense Health Agency on July 10, 2014 and was acknowledged by that office in a letter from Ms. Nadine Brown, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, on August 5, 2014. In that letter, the request was assigned internal tracking number 2014-152.

A subsequent letter from Ms. Nadine Brown, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, dated September 10, 2014, noted that as “documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD [Pharmacoeconomics] Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD” were “not Defense Health Agency Records”, the original request was being forwarded to the Department of the Army as of that date.

Following the forwarding of this request by OSD/JS to the Department of the Army on or about September 10, 2014, an acknowledgement letter from Ms. Barbara Garris, U.S. Army Freedom of Information Act Office, dated 1 October 2014, was received, noting that the request was being forwarded to the U.S. Army Medical Command as of that date.

Following this, two follow-up messages requesting acknowledgement of receipt by the U.S. Army Medical Command were sent, on November 20, 2014, and November 25, 2014. Despite this, no acknowledgement or replies have been forthcoming from the U.S. Army Medical Command.

Section 6(a)(1) of the OPEN Government Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-175, 121 Stat. 2524, provides that in the case of misdirected and routed FOIA requests, the twenty-day working day time period to process a request begins not later than 10 days after the request is first received by the appropriate agency component. As your agency has not met the statutory time requirement in responding to my request, additional provisions of section 6 of the OPEN Government Act of 2007 shall apply, including the provision that "[a]n agency shall not assess search fees (or in the case of a requester described under clause (ii)(II) [of 5 USC § 552 (a)(4)(A) as described above], duplication fees) . . . if the agency fails to comply with any time limit… if no unusual or exceptional circumstances… apply to the processing of the request."

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation with this matter. I look forward to receiving a response to my original request no later than January 18, 2015.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Jordan, Michael J Jr CTR (US)

Mr. Nevin,

Pleaser find DHA's final response to your FOIA Request.

Thanks,
Michael Jordan
FOIA Analyst
DHA Freedom of Information Act Program
(703) 921-1709
Michael.Jordan.ctr@dha.mil<mailto:Michael.Jordan.ctr@dha.mil>

AECOM
6564 Loisdale Court, Suite 900, Springfield, VA 22150
T 703.921.1600 F 703.778.8899
www.aecom.com<http://www.aecom.com>

From: Remington Nevin

U.S. Army Medical Command
Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Office
ATTN: MCFP Bldg 126
2748 Worth Road, Suite 21
Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-5049
Telephone: (210) 221-4233
Email: usarmy.jbsa.medcom.list.medcom-foia-users@mail.mil

To Whom It May Concern:

As may be confirmed at the public website MuckRock (https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/reports-related-to-mefloquine-12509/), a FOIA request for “[a]ll documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD Pharmacoeconomics Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014.”) was submitted to the Defense Health Agency on July 10, 2014 and was acknowledged by that office in a letter from Ms. Nadine Brown, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, on August 5, 2014. In that letter, the request was assigned internal tracking number 2014-152.

A subsequent letter from Ms. Nadine Brown, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, dated September 10, 2014, noted that as “documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD [Pharmacoeconomics] Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD” were “not Defense Health Agency Records”, the original request was forwarded by her office to the Department of the Army as of that date. Ms. Nadine Brown of the Defense Health Agency formally terminated the involvement of the Defense Health Agency in this request in a letter of January 28, 2015 stating that after conducting a search, her Agency had found no documents responsive to the request.

Following the forwarding of this request by the Defense Health Agency, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to the Department of the Army on or about September 10, 2014, an acknowledgement letter from Ms. Barbara Garris, U.S. Army Freedom of Information Act Office, dated 1 October 2014, was received, noting that the request was being forwarded to the U.S. Army Medical Command as of that date.

Following this, two follow-up messages requesting acknowledgement of receipt by the U.S. Army Medical Command were sent, on November 20, 2014, and November 25, 2014. Despite this, no acknowledgement or replies have been forthcoming from the U.S. Army Medical Command.

Owing to your office’s delay in acknowledging receipt of this request, an appeal of your office’s constructive denial was submitted to the Chief, U.S. Army Freedom of Information Act Office on December 22,2014. Both this appeal, and the original request forwarded to your office, remain unacknowledged as of the present date.

Please formally acknowledge receipt of the forwarded request, and begin processing the request as required by statute. I thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter, and I look forward to receiving your response no later than February 28, 2015.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Jordan, Michael J Jr CTR (US)

Mr. Nevin,

Please forward your request to the appropriate office as DHA does not have records concerning your requests.

V/r,
Michael Jordan

From: Remington Nevin

Robert Dickerson
Chief, Freedom of Information Act Office
Attn: AAHS-RDF
7701 Telegraph Road, Suite 150
Alexandria, VA 22315-3905
Re: Appeal of constructive denial of FOIA request dated July 10, 2014, subject: “Reports related to mefloquine”

Please acknowledge receipt of my appeal sent to your office December 19, 2014.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation with this matter.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

U.S. Army Medical Command
Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Office
ATTN: MCFP Bldg 126
2748 Worth Road, Suite 21
Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-5049
Telephone: (210) 221-4233
Email: usarmy.jbsa.medcom.list.medcom-foia-users@mail.mil

To Whom It May Concern:

As may be confirmed at the public website MuckRock (https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/reports-related-to-mefloquine-12509/), a FOIA request for “[a]ll documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD Pharmacoeconomics Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014.”) was submitted to the Defense Health Agency on July 10, 2014 and was acknowledged by that office in a letter from Ms. Nadine Brown, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, on August 5, 2014. In that letter, the request was assigned internal tracking number 2014-152.

A subsequent letter from Ms. Nadine Brown, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, dated September 10, 2014, noted that as “documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD [Pharmacoeconomics] Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD” were “not Defense Health Agency Records”, the original request was forwarded by her office to the Department of the Army as of that date. Ms. Nadine Brown of the Defense Health Agency formally terminated the involvement of the Defense Health Agency in this request in a letter of January 28, 2015 stating that after conducting a search, her Agency had found no documents responsive to the request.

Following the forwarding of this request by the Defense Health Agency, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to the Department of the Army on or about September 10, 2014, an acknowledgement letter from Ms. Barbara Garris, U.S. Army Freedom of Information Act Office, dated 1 October 2014, was received, noting that the request was being forwarded to the U.S. Army Medical Command as of that date.

Following this, two follow-up messages requesting acknowledgement of receipt by the U.S. Army Medical Command were sent, on November 20, 2014, and November 25, 2014. Despite this, no acknowledgement or replies have been forthcoming from the U.S. Army Medical Command.

Owing to your office’s delay in acknowledging receipt of this request, an appeal of your office’s constructive denial was submitted to the Chief, U.S. Army Freedom of Information Act Office on December 22,2014, and notice of this was sent to your office on January 28, 2015. Both this appeal, and the original request forwarded to your office, remain unacknowledged as of the present date.

Please formally acknowledge receipt of the forwarded request, and begin processing the request as required by statute. I thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter, and I look forward to receiving your response no later than April 2, 2015.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

Robert Dickerson
Chief, Freedom of Information Act Office
Attn: AAHS-RDF
7701 Telegraph Road, Suite 150
Alexandria, VA 22315-3905
Re: Appeal of constructive denial of FOIA request dated July 10, 2014, subject: “Reports related to mefloquine”

Please acknowledge receipt of the following appeal under the Freedom of Information Act for constructive denial of a request, which was originally submitted to your office December 22, 2014, and remains unacknowledged by your office as of the present date.

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act. I am writing to appeal the constructive denial of a request originally made to the Defense Health Agency on July 10, 2014 and forwarded to your office on or about September 10, 2014, and then reforwarded by your office on October 1, 2014 to the U.S. Army Medical Command. The request remains formally unacknowledged by the U.S. Army Medical Command as of this date.

The Freedom of Information Act provides an agency no more than thirty days to respond to a request. When an agency fails to respond within that statutory timeline, it has constructively denied the request. (See Oglesby v. U.S. Dep't of Army, 920 F.2d 57, 65 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (“Congress adopted the time limit provision in the FOIA in order to ‘contribute to the fuller and faster release of information, which is the basic objective of the Act.’” (quoting H.R. Rep. No. 93-876, 93d Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted (1974) U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 6267 at 6271))).

As may be confirmed at the public website MuckRock (https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/reports-related-to-mefloquine-12509/), a FOIA request for “[a]ll documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD Pharmacoeconomics Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014.”) was submitted to the Defense Health Agency on July 10, 2014 and was acknowledged by that office in a letter from Ms. Nadine Brown, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, on August 5, 2014. In that letter, the request was assigned internal tracking number 2014-152.

A subsequent letter from Ms. Nadine Brown, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, dated September 10, 2014, noted that as “documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD [Pharmacoeconomics] Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD” were “not Defense Health Agency Records”, the original request was being forwarded to the Department of the Army as of that date.

Following the forwarding of this request by OSD/JS to the Department of the Army on or about September 10, 2014, an acknowledgement letter from Ms. Barbara Garris, U.S. Army Freedom of Information Act Office, dated 1 October 2014, was received, noting that the request was being forwarded to the U.S. Army Medical Command as of that date.

Following this, two follow-up messages requesting acknowledgement of receipt by the U.S. Army Medical Command were sent, on November 20, 2014, and November 25, 2014. Despite this, no acknowledgement or replies have been forthcoming from the U.S. Army Medical Command.

Section 6(a)(1) of the OPEN Government Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-175, 121 Stat. 2524, provides that in the case of misdirected and routed FOIA requests, the twenty-day working day time period to process a request begins not later than 10 days after the request is first received by the appropriate agency component. As your agency has not met the statutory time requirement in responding to my request, additional provisions of section 6 of the OPEN Government Act of 2007 shall apply, including the provision that "[a]n agency shall not assess search fees (or in the case of a requester described under clause (ii)(II) [of 5 USC § 552 (a)(4)(A) as described above], duplication fees) . . . if the agency fails to comply with any time limit… if no unusual or exceptional circumstances… apply to the processing of the request."

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation with this matter. I look forward to receiving a response to my original request no later than January 18, 2015.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Ross, Doritha N CTR DHA ADMIN MD (US)

Mr. Nevin,

DHA has provided you with the responses that we could address as it relates to 2014-152. Please help me understand what additional information you would like DHA to address. Your letter addresses U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM), please find the appropriate information and send this request directly to MEDCOM.

Thank you

Doritha N. Ross, Senior FOIA Analyst
DHA Privacy & Civil Liberties Office
703-921-1639
Doritha.Ross.ctr@dha.mil

From: MuckRock

To Whom It May Concern:

This FOIA request was forwarded to your office. Please confirm receipt and provide an estimated date of completion forthwith.

Thank you.

From: Remington Nevin

To Whom It May Concern:

A FOIA request for "All documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD Pharmacoeconomics Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014", was forwarded to MEDCOM from the Department of the Army on October 1, 2014. Please confirm receipt and provide an estimated date of completion.

Thank you.

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 10, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-1966 ; 14-F-1276 ; 2014-152.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 10, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-1966 ; 14-F-1276 ; 2014-152.

Thank you for your help.

From: Remington Nevin

John P. Peterson,
Chief, Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Office
U.S. Army Medical Command
ATTN: MCFP Bldg 126
2748 Worth Road, Suite 21
Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-5049
Telephone: (210) 221-4233
Email: john.p.peterson.civ@mail.mil
CC: usarmy.jbsa.medcom.list.medcom-foia-users@mail.mil

Dear Mr. Peterson,

As may be confirmed at the public website MuckRock (https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/reports-related-to-mefloquine-12509/), a FOIA request for “[a]ll documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD Pharmacoeconomics Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014” was submitted to the Defense Health Agency on July 10, 2014 and was acknowledged by that office in a letter from Ms. Nadine Brown, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, on August 5, 2014. In that letter, the request was assigned internal tracking number 2014-152.

A subsequent letter from Ms. Nadine Brown, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, dated September 10, 2014, noted that as “documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD [Pharmacoeconomics] Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD” were “not Defense Health Agency Records”, the original request was forwarded by her office to the Department of the Army as of that date. Ms. Nadine Brown of the Defense Health Agency formally terminated the involvement of the Defense Health Agency in this request in a letter of January 28, 2015 stating that after conducting a search, her Agency had found no documents responsive to the request.

Following the forwarding of this request by the Defense Health Agency, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to the Department of the Army on or about September 10, 2014, an acknowledgement letter from Ms. Barbara Garris, U.S. Army Freedom of Information Act Office, dated 1 October 2014, was received, noting that the request was being forwarded to the U.S. Army Medical Command as of that date.

Following this, multiple follow-up messages requesting acknowledgement of receipt by the U.S. Army Medical Command were sent, on November 20, 2014, November 25, 2014, March 2, 2015, April 2, 2015, May 5, 2015, and June 3, 2015. Despite this, no acknowledgement or replies have been forthcoming from the U.S. Army Medical Command.

Owing to your office’s delay in acknowledging receipt of this request, an appeal of your office’s constructive denial was first submitted to the Chief, U.S. Army Freedom of Information Act Office on December 22, 2014 and resent March 2, 2015. Notice of this original appeal was sent to your office on January 28, 2015. Both this appeal, and the original request forwarded to your office, remain unacknowledged as of the present date.

Please formally acknowledge receipt of the forwarded request, and begin a search for any responsive records as required by statute. In this regard, I note that according to a Department of the Army document dated November 14, 2014 (available at http://www.oaa.army.mil/FetchFile.ashx?DocID=475), the Secretary of the Army delegated Executive Agent responsibilities for the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC) to the office of the Army Surgeon General.

I thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter, and I look forward to receiving your response no later than July 17, 2015.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

CC: judith.l.evans8.ctr@mail.mil
Ms. Judith L. Evans
Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center
11800 Tech Road, Suite 220
Silver Spring, MD 20904
Tel: 301-319-3240
Email: usarmy.ncr.medcom-afhs.mbx.media@mail.mil

July 8, 2015

Dear Ms. Evans,

It was good speaking with you today about this FOIA request. As I understand, you have received this request, and that AFHSC, reporting to DHA, is the correct agency for this request, in so much as it relates to those documents produced by AFHSC. I shall look forward to a formal acknowledgement of receipt within the week by email.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 10, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-1966 ; 14-F-1276 ; 2014-152.

Thank you for your help.

From: Remington Nevin

CC:dha.ncr.pcl.mbx.foia-requests@mail.mil

Defense Health Agency Freedom of Information Service Center
7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101
Falls Church, Virginia 22042-5101
Phone: (703) 681-7500
Fax: (703) 681-5138

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

I hereby request the following records: All documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014.

This request, in part, was first submitted directly to the Defense Health Agency (DHA) on July 10, 2014, and was assigned internal tracking number 2014-152 (FOIA), but was forwarded to another agency as it was noted by DHA, in part, that “documents produced… by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center… are not Defense Health Agency records”. In a letter dated January 28, 2015, DHA further claimed that “[a] search was conducted throughout the Defense Health Agency and no records were located in response” to the request. However, as described in a public news release (http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/614118/three-organizations-set-to-join-the-defense-health-agency), on August 23, 2015, the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center changed its name to the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch, and now operates under the Defense Health Agency’s Public Health Division within the Healthcare Operations Directorate. As a result, records responsive to this request should now be in the possession and control of the DHA.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Remington Nevin

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 10, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-1966 ; 14-F-1276 ; 2014-152.

Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

From: DHA NCR PCL Mailbox FOIA Requests

Dr. Nevin,

Attached is the FOIA Acknowledgement Letter for your review.

v/r,
Angela McDowell
Senior Analyst, Axiom Contract Support
DHA Privacy and Civil Liberties Office
Main: 703-681-7500

From: DHA NCR PCL Mailbox FOIA Requests

Dr. Nevin,

We have received your follow-up inquiry and researched the status. The estimated completion date for your request is February 15, 2016. Please be advised that this date is merely an estimate and your request may be processed sooner or later than indicated. Additionally, the complexity of backlogged cases in our queue, which were received prior to your request, may affect timely processing of your request.

Please be assured that we are working as quickly as possible to research and deliver the responsive records (if any), that you have requested.

v/r,
Angela McDowell
Senior Analyst, Axiom Contract Support
DHA Privacy and Civil Liberties Office
Main: 703-275-6363

From: DHA NCR PCL Mailbox FOIA Requests

Good Morning Mr. Nevin,

We have received your follow up to your current FOIA cases, 2016-006,007,008,009,010, and 011, and are happy to give you an update on where they stand. Currently, your requests have been assigned to the correct offices and we are awaiting their response with the respective records. Please understand that we have a large backlog and are working as quickly as possible to complete your request. As stated in our previous email, the completion date for your request is February 15, 2016. Thank you for your patience and understanding and please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

Jessie Ludin
Junior Analyst, Axiom Contract Support
Defense Health Headquarters
DHA Privacy and Civil Liberties Office
7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101
Falls Church, VA 22042
Main: 703-275-6363

From: DHA NCR PCL Mailbox FOIA Requests

Good Morning,

Please see the attached documents regarding your FOIA request.

Thank you
Jessie Ludin
Junior Analyst, Axiom Contract Support
Defense Health Headquarters
DHA Privacy and Civil Liberties Office
7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101
Falls Church, VA 22042
Main: 703-275-6363

From: Remington Nevin

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT APPEAL

Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8901 Wisconsin Avenue (Building 27)
Bethesda, MD 20889

Dear Office of the General Counsel,

Re: Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-009 (FOIA)

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act.

I hereby appeal the denial of records responsive to my request for “All documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014”.

I make this appeal on the basis that the records being requested are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to FOIA exemption (b)(5) due to their not all being internal records that are deliberative in nature and part of the decision-making process, containing opinions and recommendations.

1. Background.

As can be verified at the public website MuckRock (see https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/reports-related-to-mefloquine-12509/) this request was first submitted to Defence Health Agency (DHA) on August 25, 2015.

In a letter dated October 8, 2015 (https://d3gn0r3afghep.cloudfront.net/foia_files/2015/10/09/2016-009-Nevin-12509_Acknowledgement_Signed.pdf) this request was acknowledged and assigned DHA Control Number #2016-009 (FOIA).

In correspondence dated January 12, 2016 (https://d3gn0r3afghep.cloudfront.net/foia_files/2016/02/10/LTR_-_Denied-in-Full__2016-009_Signed.pdf), DHA denied this request in full, without release of any responsive documents, stating that “[u]nder Exemption (b)(5): the responsive documents are exempt from disclosure pursuant to FOIA exemption (b)(5) due to being internal records that are deliberative in nature and part of the decision-making process, containing opinions and recommendations”.

2. Requested Records.

As described in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) the requested records include a review “of potential neuropsychological effects on service members who were prescribed mefloquine”, which was expected to be completed in January 2014.

As shown on pages 530-566 of a MEDCOM FOIA release (https://muckrock.s3.amazonaws.com/foia_files/2015/10/07/Nevin_-_14-01056_-_Attachments.pdf), a report matching this description, produced by AFHSC, also known as Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch (AFHSB), titled "Neuropsychiatric Adverse Events Following Mefloquine Exposure" is known to have been sent to agencies outside of DHA by the Senior Managing Epidemiologist, Division of Epidemiology & Analysis, on August 1, 2014.

3. Basis for Appeal

As described in the cited news report, and as indicated by the title of the report cited in the above MEDCOM FOIA release, the records requested include reports which are primarily factual in nature, reflecting counts, numbers, and other facts, constituting the product of factual epidemiological analysis at AFHSC/AFHSB, refuting the claim that these are documents solely “containing opinions and recommendations”.

The report cited in the above MEDCOM FOIA release has also been widely shared outside of the agency, refuting the claim that this is an “internal record”.

Although the requested records may include portions which may be considered deliberative, the factual material should be reasonably severable, and not subject to blanket denial.

A claim by DHA that every record responsive to this request is subject to FOIA exemption (b)(5) implies that AFHSC/AFHSB has in fact conducted no factual, epidemiological analysis “related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD” during the period, and furthermore shared no final work product on the topic with outside agencies. Such a claim contradicts public statements of senior military officials, who have stated that factual, epidemiological analysis on the topic were in production by AFHSC/AFHSB and intended to be broadly shared outside of DHA.

In summary, I appeal the rejection of my request on the basis that responsive records exist that are not subject to withholding under the FOIA for the reasons stated by the agency.

I thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8901 Wisconsin Avenue (Building 27)
Bethesda, MD 20889

Dear Office of the General Counsel,

Re: Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-009 (FOIA)

Please acknowledge receipt of my appeal related to the above-referenced request, which I sent to your office March 7, 2016. The denial letter received from DHA was dated January 12, 2016.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8901 Wisconsin Avenue (Building 27)
Bethesda, MD 20889

Dear Office of the General Counsel,

Re: Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-009 (FOIA)

Please acknowledge receipt of my appeal related to the above-referenced request, which I sent to your office March 7, 2016. The denial letter received from DHA was dated January 12, 2016.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: DHA NCR PCL Mailbox FOIA Requests

Good afternoon,

Please see the attached documents regarding your FOIA request.

v/r
Jessie Ludin
Junior Analyst, Axiom Contract Support
Defense Health Headquarters
DHA Privacy and Civil Liberties Office
7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101
Falls Church, VA 22042
Main: 703-275-6363

From: DHA NCR PCL Mailbox FOIA Requests

Good afternoon,

Please see the attached documents regarding your FOIA request.

v/r
Jessie Ludin
Junior Analyst, Axiom Contract Support
Defense Health Headquarters
DHA Privacy and Civil Liberties Office
7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101
Falls Church, VA 22042
Main: 703-275-6363

From: Defense Health Agency

A letter stating that the request appeal has been rejected.

From: Remington Nevin

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT APPEAL
Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8955 Wood Road, Building 1, Floor 9
Bethesda, MD 20889-5628

Re: Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-009 (FOIA)

Dear Mr. Cygnarowicz,

Thank you for your letter dated July 28, 2016, in which you acknowledge receipt of my appeal related to the denial of DHA 2016-009, which I sent on March 7, 2016.

In your letter, it is stated that you received this appeal on March 7, 2016, and then again on June 1, 2016.

It is my understanding that my appeal remains under review by your office.

Please advise me at your earliest convenience as to any change in the status of your review, and whether any further clarification of the basis for my appeal is needed.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: DHA NCR PCL Mailbox FOIA Requests

Good morning Dr. Nevin,

Attached is our response to your FOIA requests regarding Mefloquine Analyses in DMSS Request Manager.
We re-processed the initial ones and then went ahead and joined the more refined 4/22/16 request to this.
We apologize for the delay.
Thanks,

DHA FOIA
DHA Privacy and Civil Liberties Office
7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101
Falls Church, VA  22042
(703) 275-6013

From: Remington Nevin

To Whom It May Concern:

Please confirm receipt of the FOIA appeal below.

Thank you.

_______________________________________________________________
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT APPEAL
Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8955 Wood Road, Building 1, Floor 9
Bethesda, MD 20889-5628

Re: Partial Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-009 (FOIA)

Dear Mr. Cygnarowicz,

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). I appeal the withholding of data and reports responsive to a properly filed FOIA request, as described below.

1. Background to the Appeal

I am in receipt of correspondence from the Defense Health Agency (DHA) dated September 27, 2016, related to my FOIA request originally dated July 10, 2014, for “[a]ll documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD Pharmacoeconomics Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014”. This request was ultimately assigned DHA FOIA control number 2016-009.

2. Description of Records

The DHA response notes that DHA is “withholding”, “in full” a number of reports, including those identified by the internal AFHSC report identifier R130263. Based on information released to me in DHA FOIA 2016-006, report 130263 is titled “TMDS encounter and pharmacy data - mefloquine analysis PVC” and was completed October 9, 2013. This report is therefore responsive to my request. However, according to the DHA response, for this report “the AFHSC provided non de-identified raw data, which included PII/PHI, to the U.S. Army Pharmacovigilance Center. Due to the sensitive nature of the PHI dataset, we are withholding this data in full under FOIA exemption (b)(6)”.

The DHA response also notes that DHA is “withholding” certain “DMSS reports” “in full”, including that identified by the internal AFHSC report identifier R130345. Based on information released to me in DHA FOIA 2016-006, report R130345 is titled “Mefloquine Analysis” and was completed on June 13, 2014. This report is therefore also responsive to my request. However, according to the DHA response, for this report, the DHA claims “The DHA has determined that the requested records are exempt from release under exemption (b)(5)”, and claims these are “internal records that are deliberative in nature and part of the decision-making process, containing opinions and recommendations”.

3. Basis for Appeal

On the basis of various claimed exemptions, the DHA has refused to provide me with any documents comprising the AFHSC reports R130263 and R130345 responsive to request DHA 2016-009. Although these documents may contain information that is subject to exemption, the entire contents of the documents themselves are unlikely to be fully subject to these exemptions, and large portions of the documents are likely to be reasonably segregable from the portions which DHA claims are exempt.

According to the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b):

“Any reasonably segregable portion of a record shall be provided to any person requesting such record after deletion of the portions which are exempt under this subsection. The amount of information deleted, and the exemption under which the deletion is made, shall be indicated on the released portion of the record unless including that indication would harm an interest protected by the exemption in this subsection under which the deletion is made. If technically feasible, the amount of the information deleted, and the exemption under which the deletion is made, shall be indicated at the place in the record where such deletion is made.”

Additionally, as described more fully in my original request (see https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/reports-related-to-mefloquine-12509/), and in recent appeals, the content of report R130345 is information that was intended to be broadly shared with external customers outside of DHA and AFHSC/AFHSB. As a final work product shared with external non-DHA and non-AFHSB customers, these slides are not subject to exemption under (b)(5) as they do not contain “opinions and recommendations”, but instead contain objective, fact-based epidemiological analysis. The production of such objective, fact-based epidemiological analysis on behalf of external customers is a primary function of AFHSB.

3. Summary

DHA has withheld reasonably segregable information responsive to my request. I hereby request that reasonably segregable information in report R130263 be provided to me, with only those portions subject to FOIA exemption b(6) redacted and indicated as such. Additionally, I hereby request a full, unredacted copy of report R130345, and that this be provided to me as quickly as possible.

I thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

To Whom It May Concern:

Please confirm receipt of the FOIA appeal below.

Thank you.

_______________________________________________________________
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT APPEAL
Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8955 Wood Road, Building 1, Floor 9
Bethesda, MD 20889-5628

Re: Partial Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-009 (FOIA)

Dear Mr. Cygnarowicz,

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). I appeal the withholding of data and reports responsive to a properly filed FOIA request, as described below.

1. Background to the Appeal

I am in receipt of correspondence from the Defense Health Agency (DHA) dated September 27, 2016, related to my FOIA request originally dated July 10, 2014, for “[a]ll documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD Pharmacoeconomics Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014”. This request was ultimately assigned DHA FOIA control number 2016-009.

2. Description of Records

The DHA response notes that DHA is “withholding”, “in full” a number of reports, including those identified by the internal AFHSC report identifier R130263. Based on information released to me in DHA FOIA 2016-006, report 130263 is titled “TMDS encounter and pharmacy data - mefloquine analysis PVC” and was completed October 9, 2013. This report is therefore responsive to my request. However, according to the DHA response, for this report “the AFHSC provided non de-identified raw data, which included PII/PHI, to the U.S. Army Pharmacovigilance Center. Due to the sensitive nature of the PHI dataset, we are withholding this data in full under FOIA exemption (b)(6)”.

The DHA response also notes that DHA is “withholding” certain “DMSS reports” “in full”, including that identified by the internal AFHSC report identifier R130345. Based on information released to me in DHA FOIA 2016-006, report R130345 is titled “Mefloquine Analysis” and was completed on June 13, 2014. This report is therefore also responsive to my request. However, according to the DHA response, for this report, the DHA claims “The DHA has determined that the requested records are exempt from release under exemption (b)(5)”, and claims these are “internal records that are deliberative in nature and part of the decision-making process, containing opinions and recommendations”.

3. Basis for Appeal

On the basis of various claimed exemptions, the DHA has refused to provide me with any documents comprising the AFHSC reports R130263 and R130345 responsive to request DHA 2016-009. Although these documents may contain information that is subject to exemption, the entire contents of the documents themselves are unlikely to be fully subject to these exemptions, and large portions of the documents are likely to be reasonably segregable from the portions which DHA claims are exempt.

According to the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b):

“Any reasonably segregable portion of a record shall be provided to any person requesting such record after deletion of the portions which are exempt under this subsection. The amount of information deleted, and the exemption under which the deletion is made, shall be indicated on the released portion of the record unless including that indication would harm an interest protected by the exemption in this subsection under which the deletion is made. If technically feasible, the amount of the information deleted, and the exemption under which the deletion is made, shall be indicated at the place in the record where such deletion is made.”

Additionally, as described more fully in my original request (see https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/reports-related-to-mefloquine-12509/), and in recent appeals, the content of report R130345 is information that was intended to be broadly shared with external customers outside of DHA and AFHSC/AFHSB. As a final work product shared with external non-DHA and non-AFHSB customers, these slides are not subject to exemption under (b)(5) as they do not contain “opinions and recommendations”, but instead contain objective, fact-based epidemiological analysis. The production of such objective, fact-based epidemiological analysis on behalf of external customers is a primary function of AFHSB.

3. Summary

DHA has withheld reasonably segregable information responsive to my request. I hereby request that reasonably segregable information in report R130263 be provided to me, with only those portions subject to FOIA exemption b(6) redacted and indicated as such. Additionally, I hereby request a full, unredacted copy of report R130345, and that this be provided to me as quickly as possible.

I thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

To Whom It May Concern:

Please confirm receipt of the FOIA appeal below.

Thank you.

_______________________________________________________________
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT APPEAL
Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8955 Wood Road, Building 1, Floor 9
Bethesda, MD 20889-5628

Re: Partial Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-009 (FOIA)

Dear Mr. Cygnarowicz,

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). I appeal the withholding of data and reports responsive to a properly filed FOIA request, as described below.

1. Background to the Appeal

I am in receipt of correspondence from the Defense Health Agency (DHA) dated September 27, 2016, related to my FOIA request originally dated July 10, 2014, for “[a]ll documents produced from September 2013 to July 2014 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), and the DoD Pharmacoeconomics Center related to the health effects of mefloquine use within DoD, to include the report referenced in multiple news reports (e.g. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/elite-army-units-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug) as being in preparation as of September 2013, and expected to be completed by January 2014”. This request was ultimately assigned DHA FOIA control number 2016-009.

2. Description of Records

The DHA response notes that DHA is “withholding”, “in full” a number of reports, including those identified by the internal AFHSC report identifier R130263. Based on information released to me in DHA FOIA 2016-006, report 130263 is titled “TMDS encounter and pharmacy data - mefloquine analysis PVC” and was completed October 9, 2013. This report is therefore responsive to my request. However, according to the DHA response, for this report “the AFHSC provided non de-identified raw data, which included PII/PHI, to the U.S. Army Pharmacovigilance Center. Due to the sensitive nature of the PHI dataset, we are withholding this data in full under FOIA exemption (b)(6)”.

The DHA response also notes that DHA is “withholding” certain “DMSS reports” “in full”, including that identified by the internal AFHSC report identifier R130345. Based on information released to me in DHA FOIA 2016-006, report R130345 is titled “Mefloquine Analysis” and was completed on June 13, 2014. This report is therefore also responsive to my request. However, according to the DHA response, for this report, the DHA claims “The DHA has determined that the requested records are exempt from release under exemption (b)(5)”, and claims these are “internal records that are deliberative in nature and part of the decision-making process, containing opinions and recommendations”.

3. Basis for Appeal

On the basis of various claimed exemptions, the DHA has refused to provide me with any documents comprising the AFHSC reports R130263 and R130345 responsive to request DHA 2016-009. Although these documents may contain information that is subject to exemption, the entire contents of the documents themselves are unlikely to be fully subject to these exemptions, and large portions of the documents are likely to be reasonably segregable from the portions which DHA claims are exempt.

According to the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b):

“Any reasonably segregable portion of a record shall be provided to any person requesting such record after deletion of the portions which are exempt under this subsection. The amount of information deleted, and the exemption under which the deletion is made, shall be indicated on the released portion of the record unless including that indication would harm an interest protected by the exemption in this subsection under which the deletion is made. If technically feasible, the amount of the information deleted, and the exemption under which the deletion is made, shall be indicated at the place in the record where such deletion is made.”

Additionally, as described more fully in my original request (see https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/reports-related-to-mefloquine-12509/), and in recent appeals, the content of report R130345 is information that was intended to be broadly shared with external customers outside of DHA and AFHSC/AFHSB. As a final work product shared with external non-DHA and non-AFHSB customers, these slides are not subject to exemption under (b)(5) as they do not contain “opinions and recommendations”, but instead contain objective, fact-based epidemiological analysis. The production of such objective, fact-based epidemiological analysis on behalf of external customers is a primary function of AFHSB.

3. Summary

DHA has withheld reasonably segregable information responsive to my request. I hereby request that reasonably segregable information in report R130263 be provided to me, with only those portions subject to FOIA exemption b(6) redacted and indicated as such. Additionally, I hereby request a full, unredacted copy of report R130345, and that this be provided to me as quickly as possible.

I thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

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