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Success Again in 2019 … Building Support for 2020

December 20, 2019

FDA has come a long way since the Alliance was formed 13 years ago. At that time, the needs of the American public were not being well-served because of a lack of resources. FDA’s budget authority (taxpayer-paid) appropriation was $1.5 billion and increased by a minimal amount each year. FDA was the agency “that isn’t like the other ones” in the Agriculture Appropriations bill and was resource-starved as a result.

Fast forward to FY 20 and the comparable number is $3.16 billion. Where FDA was once running on fumes, we have entered an era where FDA has become a “can do” agency that each year achieves a higher level of service and accomplishment in meeting the needs of the American public. We are still the agency “that isn’t like the other ones” in the Agricultural Appropriations bill, but subcommittee Members and staff now see the FDA as a special responsibility. We could not be more grateful for this positive development.

There are still areas of FDA that are structurally underfunded, but increasingly the need for better funding of the agency is tied to the extraordinary growth of agency responsibilities and the increasingly complex demands put on the FDA. Congressional mandates through legislation and appropriations have played a large and obvious role in expanding FDA’s mission. Sometimes needs must be met organically by the agency even before Congress acts (e.g., compounding). Less often acknowledged is the additional funding that FDA has needed to: keep up with the science and technology in food and medicine; address the globalization in every area of FDA jurisdiction; be a leader in innovation; and be a pioneer in involving consumers and patients in FDA’s decision-making.

Having provided the larger picture, it is worth a quick look at some of the specific needs being addressed by increased funding in FY 20. On the medical products side, new areas of emphasis include pathogens in our blood supply and cybersecurity. The appropriation also adds monies to continue initiatives in advanced manufacturing, medical countermeasures, opioids, and rare cancer therapies.

Similarly, on the food safety side, new areas of emphasis include innovation and emerging technology, standards of identity, and CBD. The appropriation also adds monies to continue initiatives in advancing FSMA, dietary supplements, strengthening the national response to foodborne illness outbreaks and imported seafood.

Also addressed in the FY 20 appropriations is the need for fixing and upgrading FDA’s infrastructure at White Oak and other rented facilities and also at the three facilities that are involved in seafood safety.

Supporting FDA is exciting because so much exciting work is going on at the agency. Alliance members visited more than 60 House and 20 Senate offices last spring during our Capitol Hill Day in support of increasing FY 20 funding, and that put us on the proactive path to improving support for FDA. Help us again as we spread the word in 2020.

Editorial note: The Analysis and Commentary section is written by Steven Grossman, Deputy Executive Director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.

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