The Need for a Strong FDA

The author of this post is a former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services

Today, I was pleased to join consumer, patient and industry groups to announce the formation of a broad bipartisan coalition to build public support and increase funding for one of our most important federal agencies, the Food and Drug Administration.

The Coalition for a Stronger FDA believes that the FDA must be given the resources it needs to build on its position as the world's premier consumer protection organization. The members of the Coalition understand that a stronger FDA is critical to not only protecting the food supply, but also ensuring that the next generation of medical innovations reach the market quickly and are as safe and effective as possible.

This is not a partisan issue. In fact, my two predecessors at HHS - Secretary Donna E. Shalala and Secretary Louis Sullivan - are serving with me as co-chairs of the Coalition. As Republicans and Democrats, we appreciate the important role the FDA plays in our daily lives by regulating roughly 25 percent of all consumer spending.
As former Secretaries, we also know first hand that one of the challenges FDA faces is the fact that appropriations for the agency haven't kept up with its sister agencies in the public health arena. As a nation, we have made valuable and bipartisan commitments to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. In fact, we were honored to begin the doubling of NIH's budget under the Clinton Administration and complete it under President Bush.

With the doubling of the NIH budget, however, will come a flood of new discoveries and technologies. At a time when the agency is struggling with its current workload, we must ensure that the FDA has the resources it needs to get life-saving and enhancing products to market as quickly, safely and effectively as possible - while also giving the agency the tools it needs to protect the food supply.

The Coalition plans to build public support for the FDA and work productively with the executive branch and Congress to ensure the agency has adequate resources to fulfill its mission. The Coalition welcomes and seeks to work in concert with the important ongoing efforts of individuals, companies, patient and consumer advocates and other groups to convince our policymakers of the importance of increasing the FDA's entire budget, including therapeutics, foods, cosmetics and medical products.