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A Gathering Storm … Or Just a Little Bluster?

May 20, 2011

FY 12 appropriations is a gathering storm that threatens FDA and our community. It will hit land for the first time on Tuesday, with the House agriculture appropriations subcommittee mark-up. We feel confident that the case for FDA is strong, but the winds may be so fierce that everyone and everything is knocked over. There may be a short period to recover afterward, then the storm may rage again when the full committee marks up on May 31 or June 1.

As with most weather forecasts, there is a degree of uncertainty. The storm may turn out to be nothing. But we can’t be sure it won’t be a hurricane or even a tornado. We do know that the weather conditions pre-dispose us to expect the worst, by which we mean that the total monies available to the agriculture appropriations subcommittee are substantially less than the already-reduced amount they had to spend in FY 11.

Whatever happens, we expect that Alliance members will need to respond to inquiries from media, their members, and readers of their publications. As we await the arrival of the storm — hoping it is tame — here are the core messages that support FDA funding:

  • Breadth: FDA is a pre-eminent public health agency that assures that our food supply is safe and that drugs, vaccines, and medical devices are safe and effective. Its mandate includes a number of other important public health purposes from over-the-counter drugs to pet food, from bottled water to dietary supplements, and from cosmetics to standards for radiation-emitting devices, such as cell phones. Multiple times every day, Americans use products for which FDA has oversight responsibilities. There is no back-up if the agency isn’t there.
  • Impact: FDA oversees nearly 25% of all consumer spending — assuring safe foods, safe and effective medical products, etc. The economic impact of the industries and products the agency oversees is enormous — and have the potential to lead growth in our economy and job development (Please see our economic white paper by clicking here ). Unlike other regulatory agencies, a strong FDA is welcomed by the industries it oversees.
  • Funding Needs: FDA has been severely underfunded for decades. Funding is needed to catch up with globalization and the increasing complexity of science. Nanotechnology is just one example of new science that is developing into job growth and a plus for economy. It is equally important to appreciate how much the FDA-regulated industries are growing, which requires more FDA resources to keep up.
  • FDA’s job is much like national defense — essential to our nation’s well-being … and providing protection that is apt to be taken for granted until a crisis occurs. Even with economic pressures to decrease the deficit, now is not the time to cut the FDA. It would be short sighted for the American public and the growth of industries that want a strong FDA.

The Alliance will be in there fighting for FDA. We count on our members to actively support these efforts.

Note: This analysis and commentary is written by Steven Grossman, Deputy Executive Director of the Alliance.

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