September 27, 2007 The Pump Handle 1Comment

By Kristen Perosino 

Is FDA on the road to recovery? Will public confidence in the agency be restored?

In what is bound to be an interesting policy address (not to mention well-timed, as the recently passed FDA Amendments Act of 2007 awaits Bush’s signature), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is scheduled to present her vision of “The Future of the FDA” on Wednesday, October 3rd at George Washington University.

She’s quite an important figure for the agency.  As Chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds FDA, DeLauro is influential in determining resource allocations to FDA programs.  She demonstrated her clout earlier this year, for example, when FDA was rumored to cut funding for the Office of Women’s Health.  DeLauro voiced her opposition and challenged Commissioner von Eschenbach to explain any such decision.  FDA eventually maintained funding levels for the office after pressure from DeLauro and many women’s rights advocates.  Translation:  Women’s health is important to DeLauro.

So what else is important to DeLauro?  The Congresswoman is likely to address food safety reform in next week’s policy address.  For years, DeLauro has been calling for better prevention of food-borne illness and improvements in the safety of the U.S. food supply.  (She has also introduced legislation to this effect.)  Food safety has captured more public and political attention lately, with the recent salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks and pet food recalls.  FDA is central to this debate.  The agency is responsible for the safety of 80% of the U.S. food supply, but some lawmakers feel that it lacks the resources and authority to adequately protect the public from harmful food products.  It will be interesting to hear DeLauro’s views on this pressing public health issue.

The Congresswoman is also expected to discuss the importance of drug safety.  Resource shortfalls, political and industry pressures, and lack of enforcement authority have threatened FDA’s ability to ensure safe and efficacious drugs and medical devices.  The final FDA bill makes some significant improvements in these areas by increasing funds for drug safety monitoring, reducing conflicts of interest, and granting FDA new authority to order drug labeling adjustments and post-market drug safety studies.  Perhaps DeLauro will highlight these successes and discuss the challenges that remain in protecting the public from unsafe drugs.

Overall, DeLauro has worked hard to strengthen science and objectivity at FDA.  Her insight on the future of the agency is valuable, and we look forward to this great event. 

To view the invitation to Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s “The Future of the FDA” policy address, please click here.  If you would like to attend, please RSVP to eohjip [at] gwumc [dot] edu.

 Kristen Perosino works for the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy and is an MPH candidate at George Washington University’s School of Public Health.

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