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Advocacy at a Glance

March 13, 2020

Topline: The Alliance’s March 18 Hill Day is still on! We will be substituting conference calls for meetings; see details below. Also, the Alliance encourages more of our members to submit public testimony on the need for additional FDA funding. Dr. Hahn’s March 11 House Appropriations testimony is described below. This week’s Analysis and Commentary continues our FAQ series with information on FDA budget and appropriations issues.

The Alliance’s March 18 Hill Day Is Still On; New Format to Deliver FDA Funding Message Safely. Recognizing that Congressional offices are quickly adopting policies that limit in-person meetings, the Alliance for a Stronger FDA has converted our 62 scheduled Hill meeting into conference calls that will occur at the same time as the originally scheduled meetings. The responses from Hill staffers has been extremely positive — they are happy to meet with us and are pleased to have a way to do it safely and from either their home or office. In turn, Alliance members will have the same flexibility to conveniently participate from home or office.

If you have not yet signed up for our Hill Day, we can still add you to one of the teams. Contact Reed and specify morning, afternoon, or all day. If you have already signed up to participate on Hill Day, please confirm with Reed that you are available for the same period you signed up for (morning, afternoon, or all day). We expect to have team assignments, call-in numbers, and other details to everyone by Monday afternoon or early Tuesday morning in anticipation of the Hill Day activities on Wednesday (March 18).

More About Hill Day: Broad Participation Important; FDA Expertise Not Essential. The Alliance’s Hill Day is an opportunity to advocate for a strong, well-funded FDA and educate Congress about FDA’s far-reaching mission and responsibilities. Broad participation from every stakeholder group and member organization strongly reinforces our two messages: “a strong FDA benefits all Americans” and “FDA’s growing responsibilities require a budget that grows.”

We are often asked: “Do I have to be an expert on FDA to participate in Hill Day?” To the contrary, you just need to be able to fill in the blank in: “My organization supports increased funding for FDA because ….” Further, we will be scheduling a briefing call late Tuesday afternoon (March 17) to provide additional background on messaging, protocols, and to answer any questions.

Send a Strong Message on FDA Funding: Submit Testimony. Alliance members interested in submitting testimony should contact Roger or Liz. We can provide advice on the process and help with Alliance materials that will support your efforts. For the House Ag/FDA Appropriations Subcommittee, public testimony is due no later than COB on Tuesday, March 31. Details on submitting testimony are here. For the Senate Ag/FDA Appropriations Subcommittee, public testimony is due no later than COB on Monday, April 6. Details on submitting testimony are here.

Dr. Hahn Testified Before House Subcommittee March 11. It was definitely a hearing that checked the box: FDA testified on FY 21 funding before the House Appropriations Ag/FDA Subcommittee. However, as might be expected, the overwhelming focus of  the hearing was on coronavirus — availability of testing kits, transfer of information, lack of sanitizers, work with states, suspension of foreign inspections, etc. Notably, there was discussion of FDA’s role in advanced manufacturing as a means to increase domestic production and reduce dependence on foreign sources (China) for medical products and constituent ingredients.

Only a comparatively brief amount of time was spent on the FDA budget request for FY 21 and other ongoing activities. Questions covered food safety, compounding, dairy standards of identify, CBD, premium cigars, and e-cigarettes.  In Dr. Hahn’s opening statement (here), he identified three things he wants to focus on: (1) unleashing the power of data; (2) empowering patients and consumers; and (3) innovation, choice, and competition. He was asked by Chairman Bishop about food safety personnel, saying funding was provided for 2,700 FTEs but only 785 positions have been filled. Dr. Hahn did say substantial progress has been made in the last two months. (Exchange at approximately 1:46:00 here.)

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