Congress’ consolidated appropriations bill would give the FDA nearly $1.73 billion in funding but would bar the agency from transferring any of those funds to its Reagan-Udall Foundation.
The foundation, established by Congress in the FDA Amendments Act, promotes the Critical Path Initiative. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chairwoman of the subcommittee that funds the FDA, has warned that there is no framework to minimize the industry’s influence on the foundation.
Earlier this year, DeLauro sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach expressing concerns with pharmaceutical industry funding of the foundation, saying it could endorse the approval of drugs based on lower standards. The FDA should postpone activities related to the foundation until it can assure the pharmaceutical and device industries will not have undue influence, DeLauro said.
“These sorts of fear tactics are extraordinarily contrary to public health,” Center for Medicine in the Public Interest President Peter Pitts said. “It just shows how low a point we have reached when a member of Congress can accuse the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry of actually striving to lower standards. It’s just absurd.”
The appropriations bill, H.R. 2764, gives the FDA more than $79 million above the president’s budget request and $145 million above the fiscal 2007 funding level. The bill provides an increase of $7.5 million for the Critical Path Initiative over its fiscal 2007 level, which was $5 million.
The House voted again, 272-142, on the revised bill Dec. 19, which includes unrestricted funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.