FDA: Administration Calls For Budget Increase
The Clinton administration has asked Congress to increase funding for the FDA to "safeguard" the nation's health. Administration officials said the first $30 million increase to the agency's $1.1 billion budget would be used to hire 60 more food safety inspectors. The AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports that consumer advocates are concerned about "intense congressional pressure" on the FDA to approve new drugs more quickly. Despite annual increases of 12% in the number of new products the FDA must evaluate, a new report to Congress states that the agency faces a $165 million shortfall from "six years of budgets that did not keep up with inflation." In addition, agency officials said they need to hire 500 more employees, disclosing that they face a backlog in reviewing generic drugs. The report estimates that currently, only 10% of injuries from unexpected side effects and the improper use of drugs and medical devices are reported. "We cannot do everything that is expected of us," said Linda Suydam, FDA associate commissioner. "Let's face it, the FDA is underfunded," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). "The administration and indeed the Congress is going to have to take a hard look at what we are asking the FDA to do, and with what resources," he added. New FDA Commissioner Jane Henney has pledged that a top priority will be repairing the agency's "science base" (Neergaard, 1/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.