Stupak: FDA needs subpoena power

Rep. Bart Stupak (photo) might be a severe FDA critic, but he's also shaping up to be the agency's dearest friend. Chief of the House Energy and Commerce committee's oversight-and-investigations group, Stupak helped push FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach to ask for millions more in FDA funding--and now he's suggesting that the FDA needs subpoena power. That's no small thing; it would allow the FDA to demand documents from drugmakers rather than simply ask nicely and say please.

Apparently, Democrats on the committee have been rankled by the FDA's lack of power in that department because they think it has limited the agency's pharma investigations. During a recent hearing, Stupak asked CDER honcho Janet Woodcock and her deputy whether they'd like subpoena power; they agreed it would be "very useful." Now, Stupak has written to von Eschenbach asking his opinion on the potential change. He'd like to add it to a drug importation bill now pending in the House. No word on what the commish plans to say in response.

- read the WSJ Health Blog item