The House Agriculture Subcommittee has approved a fiscal 2009 budget of approximately $2.1 billion for the FDA—$282 million more than originally requested.
According to the Subcommittee’s chairwoman, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the increase includes the additional $275 million that Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt requested for the agency last week, reported FDA News.
DeLauro called the administration’s request for the additional funds an acknowledgment that “the nation’s food and drug safety system is broken.”
However, she criticized the administration for not indicating how it wants the FDA to use the additional funds and promised to hold hearings on the subject. When asked when the hearings would take place, she could not provide a date but said the subcommittee would “move quickly.”
“We are trying to look at where the money is being spent,” she added. “Accountability procedures are going to be put in place. The FDA needs to move on what its Science Board said and on what the recalls have taught us. For the first time in a very long time, there has been recognition of the serious problems that exist. We are building the pieces to put the agency back on track. There has to be a focus on prevention, not just reaction.”
According to FDA News, DeLauro was referring to a report issued last December by a subcommittee of the FDA’s Science Board, which said that a lack of funding, inadequate workforce, weak scientific base and obsolete IT system are preventing the FDA from carrying out its mission.
The budget measure now goes to the House Appropriations Committee for a markup, which was scheduled for next week but has been postponed, according to Kirstin Brost, a spokeswoman for Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the committee chairman.
The bill has no number until the full committee introduces it in the House, and the Agriculture Subcommittee has not made it or its details available, reported FDA News.