Advocating for Funding of ALL of FDA
On casual examination, it might seem like the Alliance is made up of “food guys” seeking more food safety funding and “medical products” guys asking for more drug and device funding. Certainly, both constituencies are well represented among our members.
Yet, when the Alliance was formed in 2006, it was intended to be much more. Then and now, we remain committed to the FDA cause as a whole, as well as to its constituent parts.
One reason is that past campaigns for FDA funding had been divided, promoting just the part of the agency of interest to the advocates involved. All of these efforts were failures. This is quite evident in the FDA budgets going back decades prior to 2006. Working together with one voice through the Alliance: FDA’s appropriated funding has increased by more than 60% from $1.5 billion when we started 8 years ago to more than $2.5 billion in FY 14.
Another reason to advocate for funding for all of FDA is that it operates as a single agency in many important regards. While a large number of employees do fall on one side or another of the divide between food and medical products, important parts of the agency don’t. Notably, FDA’s office of regulatory affairs is in charge of inspections and investigations in every area of FDA jurisdiction. This includes vaccines, OTC drugs, dietary supplements, veterinary medicines and cosmetics, in addition to the more traditional food and medical products. There are also the Center for Veterinary Medicine and the National Center for Toxicological Research, both of which work on an array of issues that cannot be neatly defined.
Yet another reason to work for a stronger, well-funded FDA is the importance of FDA’s reputation for all FDA stakeholders. This was, perhaps, more evident in 2006 to 2008 when the agency was dealing with melamine, heparin, and a number of other very public crises. It was clear at the time that when FDA was pummeled by Congress and the press, it hurt the entire agency and not just the immediate area of concern. It is no less true today. One area makes headlines; all areas are judged. If FDA loses credibility because of food problems, it also loses credibility for medical products decisions. And vice versa.
What Americans need is an FDA committed to fair dealing and science-based decision-making. To achieve this across an enormous set of responsibilities requires the funding for which we are the primary advocates. All FDA stakeholders are in this together. Anything less is short-sighted and unlikely to succeed.