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Advocacy at a Glance

October 24, 2020

Top-Line: Last week’s webinar with CDER leadership is described in this week’s Analysis and Commentary, along with some comments about post-election dynamics. While plenty is still happening in the D.C. area, most of the attention is focused on the election and preparing for changes in leadership roles and possibly a change of majority in the Senate. A study of global attitudes towards food safety ranked it as a leading issue and showed strong support for government and private organizations to focus on preventing food issues.

Washington Is Waiting for the Election. The Senate is working on the Supreme Court confirmation and the House is “on call” if they need to come back before November 16 (e.g. if there was a COVID-19 relief package to vote on). FDA is continuing to do its important work of protecting our food supply and assuring the safety and efficacy of medical products, with some notable highlights such as this week’s Vaccine Advisory Committee meeting.

Mostly, D.C. is on hold until Election Day determines the winners and losers. The range of possibilities for the post-election session (see this week’s Analysis and Commentary) are hard to guess until the election results are in. Key for FDA will be whether Congress extends the Continuing Resolution until next year (it expires December 11) or whether some or all FY 21 appropriations bills are passed this year. Regardless of who wins the presidency, the period between Election Day and Inauguration Day is always a time of transition. That’s obvious if there is a new Administration, but re-elected Presidents usually use this time between year four and year five to clean house, creating a different kind of transition.

Who Will Watch Over FDA in the New Congress? Last week’s Analysis and Commentary (here) explored likely committee changes on both appropriations and authorizing committees with FDA jurisdiction. Even that will take some time to sort out. House Democratic leadership elections will be held on November 18 and 19 and committee chairmanship elections will be held in early December. Subcommittee chairmanship and member assignment in the House are more likely to be announced in January. We have not yet seen dates for House Republicans. The Senate calendar may take longer if there is a flip to a Democratic majority.

Food Safety: An Issue of Global Importance. Food Safety News (FSN) reported (here) on a study from the Mars Global Food Safety Center that looked at consumer attitudes about food safety in the U.S., the United Kingdom, and China. More than half of all survey respondents believe that food safety is a top three global issue. More than three-quarters believe it is among the top ten in global issues. Alliance for a Stronger FDA members, as advocates for a well-resourced FDA, should find two survey findings of particular importance. First, there is very strong support for

government and private organizations to continue to focus on preventing food safety issues (85 percent), to invest in early detection programs (84 percent), and to manage global food safety (80 percent). Second, almost three quarters of consumers are willing to place their trust in food regulatory agencies, country governments (65 percent), and international governing bodies (61 percent) to ensure food safety but most agree more needs to be done.

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