The Bush administration will ask Congress for an additional $275 million for the Food and Drug Administration for additional workers, programs and technology, as well as the authority to outsource regulatory work.
The additional appropriation request to the fiscal 2009 budget the White House submitted to Congress in February was announced in an unusual evening telephone news conference with HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach. Combined with an increase in the original FDA request in the February budget, Leavitt said that the latest call represents $404.7 million in higher spending at the FDA in 2009 than in fiscal 2008, a 17.8% boost that will include the addition of 490 new FDA jobs.
Leavitt said that potential uses for the funding include: establishing additional foreign offices, possibly in Central America, China and India; increasing technical assistance on food standards to countries that export to the U.S.; and conducting more risk-based inspections of foreign food and medical product facilities.
Leavitt said that the funding proposal also includes multiple requests for Congress to expand FDA authority. One would allow the FDA to outsource some of its work by accrediting independent, third-parties for voluntary inspections, and to refuse admission of imports if a company delays, limits or denies access to agency inspectors and the ability of the FDA to require certification of designated, high-risk products as an additional condition of importation. -- by Joseph Conn