AZ chief: FDA needs 'a full set of teeth'

Ever heard of a CEO calling for more regulation of his industry? If not, you will today. David Brennan (photo), chief executive of AstraZeneca (AZN), is set to call on the U.S. to boost funding for FDA "so that it is recognized as a watchdog with a full set of teeth," the Times of London reports. Brennan, who also serves as chairman of the drug industry association PhRMA, will make the statement at the Medical Innovation Summit in Cleveland.

Brennan's point is twofold: He wants the FDA to be better-funded and more efficient so that new treatments win approval more quickly. And he wants the FDA to be stronger so that public confidence in the industry is restored and increased. "We have to be advocates for a strong, well-functioning FDA that can do a more timely and consistent job," he will say during his speech. "[A]n understaffed and underfunded FDA is an agency in crisis."

Brennan joins a chorus of folk who've been agitating for great resources and better operations at the FDA for some time. Famously, the agency's own science board said last fall that FDA lacked the expertise, funding, staffing, and technology to protect the American public from substandard drugs. Congress did boost FDA's budget for the current fiscal year and cleared it to hire hundreds of people. But incoming FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has identified more necessary improvements and reforms. We'll see how she takes Brennan's remarks.

- see the Times story