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Even Salmonella, Cats, and Dogs Affect FDA’s FY 12 Budget

November 4, 2011

The House-Senate conference on the “minibus” appropriations bill began with a first meeting last night (Thursday).  FDA funding for FY 12 hangs in the balance as the conferees work their way through several large appropriations, including Agriculture/FDA.

In one sense, it feels odd. Appropriations conferees have not sat down to negotiate in this fashion for several years. On the other hand, the final number for FDA is always the result of House and Senate subcommittees (Members and staff) talking and agreeing on a compromise. It’s just more formal this year.

The Alliance and its members have done about everything that can be done. In addition, FDA is doing a better job this year (in my opinion) of explaining its funding needs. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend on their part, because clarity and accountability are becoming ever more essential for federal agencies hoping to gain budget resources.

At this point,  the conferees certainly know how important FDA is and why its appropriated resources must continue to grow. We need to keep reinforcing that all the stakeholders support this position. So, please continue to send letters of support to Chairmen Kingston and Kohl and Ranking Members Farr and Blunt. Send them directly … or send them to Tony Curry at the Alliance and we will provide them to the Hill. Support for FDA is not only the right thing, but it helps if Congress also appreciates the breadth and depth of support for FDA.

As a backdrop, it was also a week for reminders of how much Americans need FDA to do its job well. Early in the week, the President issued an executive order directing FDA to address the problems associated with drug shortages. Yesterday, the agency announced progress in approving new drugs in FY 11, the numbers were good compared to past years — but not nearly enough for the patients waiting for treatments and cures. Also yesterday, there was an article about problems with salmonella in pet food (feed the cats, wash your hands!). This was a reminder of just how deep into our lives FDA goes, whether we appreciate it or not. Pets may not seem the most important part of FDA’s jurisdiction, and it doesn’t get a lot of resources, but 39% of US household own a dog and 33% of US households own a cat.

The Alliance believes that the conferees will see the wisdom of choosing the higher Senate level, with its $50 million increase for FDA. We hope our faith is justified.

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

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