The political sniping over $275 million in additional FDA funding has only just begun. Today, it's Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican and frequent FDA critic--and he's not taking shots at the funding request, but at the Bush administration for dragging its feet. Apparently, the way Health and Human Services asked for money will put off the actual infusion of cash till next spring, in the fiscal 2009 year. Specter wants to get the extra funds into a supplemental 2008 spending bill
"The 81 deaths due to contaminated heparin and the one suspected death in the ongoing salmonella outbreak show that we cannot wait nine months to give FDA the resources needed to protect the public," Specter said in a letter to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt. Across the bottom of that letter, he hand-wrote, "FDA needs this money now to save lives."
Apparently Specter was less than pleased with the tone of Leavitt's funding request early this week. You'll recall that he admonished Congress to "act quickly" to approve the necessary funds. Well, Congress has been asking FDA to name a figure for months. No wonder Specter's peeved.