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Advocacy at a Glance

April 23, 2021

Top-Line: Alliance Hill Day Meetings on April 28-29, with Alliance member participation urgently requested. More on Acting FDA Commissioner Woodcock’s meeting with the Alliance. HHS Secretary Becerra testifies before House Appropriations. Eric Lander as Director of OSTP confirmation hearing scheduled.

Alliance to Begin Hill Day Meetings Next Week; Please Sign Up. The lack of any details about FDA funding in the President’s “preview budget” means that we may still be waiting for another month or more to know the administration’s baseline request for FY 22. With the potential for the appropriations committees to start holding hearings and taking actions in the interim, the Alliance is focusing its next Hill Day on refreshing Congressional offices on FDA’s enormous and diverse responsibilities, its many successes, and its growing resource needs to fulfill its mission. The one-pager that we will be using in these Hill meetings is part of this week’s Analysis and Commentary.

Because this will again be a virtual effort, we are scheduling meetings across two days — April 28 and 29 — and looking for participants who can be available at any time between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET on those days. We are hoping that Alliance members will be able to give us two-hour and half-day availability, but we are sure to have needs for coverage of single meetings. So, please let us know if you expect to have time but cannot yet be certain when on each day. For more information and to sign up, please contact Reed Diskey.

Follow-up to Dr. Woodcock’s Presentation. On April 14, Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock addressed the Alliance membership and guests. According to Alliance President Ronald J. Bartek:

When the commissioner addresses the Alliance for a Stronger FDA — a coalition of 150 organizations representing the entire gamut of the FDA’s stakeholder groups–it is that rare space where commissioners can talk about anything they wish to address and answer questions from the membership of the Alliance representing the entire spectrum of the agency’s stakeholders.

Between pre-submitted and audience questions, Dr. Woodcock covered more than a dozen topics during a 40-minute session. A transcript of Acting Commissioner Woodcock’s remarks and questions from the audience can be found here. The video from the event can be accessed here. The Alliance also issued a press release summarizing some highlights of Dr. Woodcock’s responses.

Secretary Becerra Testifies on HHS Appropriations. On April 15, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra testified before the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee on the FY 22 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services. The hearing mostly focused on HHS’ activities regarding unaccompanied minors, the social determinants of health, the role of HHS’ Office of Civil Rights in enforcing nondiscrimination provisions, and Title X. The Secretary also discussed the $6.5 billion in the President’s Budget Request for ARPA-H, which will fund translational research work and initially focus on treatments for cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. During Member comments, there was a lot of discussion about improving the public health infrastructure and preparing for future pandemics.

Eric Lander Nomination Ready for Confirmation Hearing. We earlier noted the nomination of Dr. Eric Lander to be the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Notably, President Biden has designated the post to be part of his cabinet and Dr. Lander would be the first life scientist to hold this position. The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on April 29.

Friends of Cancer Research Releases Scientific Report on Drug Development. FOCR’s “2020 Scientific Report: Regulatory Advancements for Patients” (here) compiles a wide range of white papers and publications. It covers various aspects of drug development and regulatory science.

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