FDA handed out $35M in bonuses

The FDA finds itself in the line of Congressional fire on two different issues today. One, the agency is taking some heat for the $35 million in incentive pay it handed out last fiscal year, a 29 percent hike from the year before. Rep. Bart Stupak, a familiar FDA critic and head honcho of a House panel reviewing FDA compensation, called the bonus increases "outrageous" in light of "the agency's poor management."

The bonus plan has been around since 2004--as a way to compete with the private sector for top talent--but last year marked the biggest payouts; some FDAers got more than $50,000 in incentive pay. And 17 of the highest paid officials at the agency made more than $200,000. That's more than a member of Congress or the U.S. attorney general takes home.

Meanwhile, the agency's animal health division is facing more questions about the return of ProHeart 6, Wyeth's heartworm med that was yanked four years ago after it was linked to serious side effects. Stupak and his colleague John Dingell want the FDA to justify its decision to let the drug back onto the market, saying that ProHeart 6 didn't get a full safety-and-risk evaluation before the go-ahead came.

- read the Wall Street Journal story
- see the item at the WSJ Health Blog
- check out the Pharmalot post

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