FDA in crisis? Then show them the money
Pony up, Congress. Stop whipping the FDA for its failures and fork over the cash necessary to fix the problem. That's what editorial writers at the Boston Globe and New York Times said over the weekend. "Congress should boost FDA spending to whatever level it takes to restore public trust in the agency," the Globe contended.
We all know the stats by now: Though 80 percent of drugs sold in the U.S. are made overseas, the number of import inspectors has dropped by a third, and only a handful of the thousands of foreign manufacturing plants are inspected each year. The FDA's $2 billion budget has dropped by $400 million in inflation-adjusted dollars over the last 14 years. Meanwhile, more than 100 statutes over the last 20 years have handed the agency new duties. As the Times points out, informed observers are nearly unanimous: the FDA is in crisis. Even Congressional Democrats and Republicans agree on this point.
"The FDA desperately needs an infusion of money and talent," notes the Times. In another editorial--linked to coverage of a Chinese company that distributed tainted cancer drugs, paralyzing hundreds--the paper calls on Congress and the White House to "move quickly" to strengthen the FDA. We'll see if the government takes heed.