The FDA's surprising plea for cash

Finally, FDA chief Andrew von Eschenbach is crying uncle. After weeks of pressure from Congress to request more money for the agency--and weeks of refusals to specify a figure for beefing up FDA's safety operations--von Eschenbach has asked lawmakers for $275 million, posthaste.

The FDA chief made his plea in a letter to Sen. Arlen Specter that included a detailed plan for spending the money. Among the new expenses: opening new foreign offices, increasing inspections, and building new databases. No big surprises there. But the fact that von Eschenbach made the request--in writing, no less--surprised observers, because presidential appointees tend to toe the administration's budgetary line. Indeed, von Eschenbach himself seemed to be following that tradition, despite the best efforts of Congress to elicit a request for cash.

Not so anymore. "I never saw anything like this happen before," a former FDA commissioner told The New York Times.

- read the Times article

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