Grassley, Dingell plan FDA renovation

A pair of FDA critics, Rep. John Dingell (D, MI) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R, IA), are making it a major priority to overhaul the FDA and give the organization additional power, as well as to draw a deeper line in the sand between the agency and the industry it regulates. Grassley says that agency officials "are too cozy with the companies they regulate."

Both men would like to broaden FDA's recall powers and to increase the agency's ability to impose fines and restrict pharma advertising. However, with not much time before the November elections, some of their plans will likely have to wait.

The pair will make efforts to address what they consider mishandlings of events by the FDA, such as the jalapeño salmonella outbreak that was originally blamed on tomatoes. Drug controversies abound, with more and more critics concerned that the agency isn't tough enough when reviewing drug safety profiles, allowing drugs like Chantix and Vytorin to slip through the cracks. 

FDA has no power to recall drugs today and has little authority to impose fines for safety violations. On their agenda is the replacement of the FDA commissioner, Andrew von Eschenbach, with someone who is less influenced by the industry.

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