- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 24, 2006

Industry, consumer and patient groups are banding together in a lobbying effort to push for more money for the Food and Drug Administration.

Leading this coalition are the last three secretaries of the FDA’s parent agency, the Health and Human Services Department — Tommy G. Thompson, Donna E. Shalala and Louis W. Sullivan.

The FDA’s budget has trailed the increases given to other public health agencies, most notably the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A similar lobbying campaign announced in April counts seven former FDA commissioners among its members. Mr. Thompson said he hoped the two groups would combine their efforts.

“The ultimate object is to get the FDA the resources needed for them to do the job,” Mr. Thompson said.

The FDA, with an annual budget of about $1.8 billion, regulates food, drug, cosmetic, medical, veterinary and other products that account for an estimated 20 cents of every dollar spent by U.S. consumers.

“We only need to look at what’s happening with spinach in the market today to recognize the importance of the FDA,” said Mr. Thompson, referring to the E. coli outbreak linked to the leafy greens.

The coalition includes the American Heart Association, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

“This is a case, whether you are industry concerned about efficiency, or patient groups concerned about loved ones, or consumer groups worried about safety, or members of Congress responding to constituent worries about all of the above, where you really need to make sure this agency has the resources it needs,” said former Rep. Jim Greenwood, Pennsylvania Republican and president of BIO.

In a report Friday, the Institute of Medicine, which advises the government on health policy, recommended more money for the FDA to help ensure the safety of prescription drugs.

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