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Thanks for Your Support on Our Hill Day

March 20, 2015

Another Alliance Hill Day is in the books! By all accounts, it was very successful. The handout we used to support our efforts — a short PowerPoint deck — is attached.

Here is what we hope Congressional staffers heard:

  • A decade ago, FDA was a severely underfunded public health and regulatory agency with no prospects for improving its funding situation.
  • Due to advocacy and education, Congress provided significantly increased resources to FDA in four consecutive years (2008-2011), which helped the agency to partially catch up, and then provided much smaller increases in 2012, 2014 and 2015 (2013 = sequestration).
  • In 2010 and every year since, Congress has given substantial new responsibilities in food, medical innovation and drug safety to FDA, to be paid for from budget authority appropriations. These new programs plus increasing globalization, scientific complexity and growing industries have left FDA without the resources it needs to fulfill its mission.
  • FDA has roughly enough money for the FDA that existed a few years ago, but not for the FDA of 2015.

Here is what we heard from a large number of Hill staffers in response:

  • We understand what FDA does and over the last few years have been impressed with what they are doing and their responsiveness in the face of a lot of new responsibilities.
  • We recognize there are often problems because of the complexity of the issues and see why more manpower is needed, not less.
  • We support FDA, see them as a priority. That said, money will be extremely tight and most agencies may yet face cuts.

Why was the response generally so good? One reason is that most of the Lobby Day meetings were with authorizers, who are already considering further changes for FDA. They are very much aware of the strain on resources. In contrast, most (but not all) of the appropriator meetings were held before lobby day, with just a few this week. The House appropriators, in particular, have emphasized how tight the budget will be and the difficulty of finding additional resources. This mirrors the House appropriations subcommittee hearing, described here. The Senate has been a bit more encouraging, but have warned that increases will be hard to get and even base-year level funding may be difficult.

Thank you to those who made time to participate in the Alliance’s Hill lobby day. The accomplishments of lobby day were only possible because you supported the cause.

Note: This week’s Analysis and Commentary was written by Steven Grossman, the deputy executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.

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