In a letter written to Congress, Andrew Von Eschenbach, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Chief, admits the agency needs an immediate infusion of $275 million.
Von Eschenbach’s request was made to Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a letter.
Presidential appointees rarely diverge so forcefully from the President’s own spending plans, or at least avoid doing so in writing. Dr. von Eschenbach’s action surprised agency observers and was taken as perhaps a sign of the President’s waning influence in the closing months of his presidency (The New York Times, May 14, 2008).
Earlier this year, President Bush requested Congress to appropriate $1.77 billion to the FDA in FY 09. This includes an increase of $50.7 million over FY 08. This increase is not even enough to cover salary increases at the agency.
The FDA has been plagued with criticism for approving contaminated food and drugs and just recently came under attack for not properly policing the Direct to Consumer Advertisements used by pharmaceuticals companies.
Last week, Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) offered an amendment to the FY 08 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill that would increase funding for the FDA by $275 million.
Advocates for increased food and drug oversight said they were thrilled with Dr. Von Eschenbach’s letter. “We are one step closer to an FDA that has the resources to serve the needs of American consumers,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal, Food Safety Director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (The New York Times, May 14, 2008).