Senate disposes of four amendments to FDA bill by unanimous consent

• Leahy, making sure that the government does not have to disclose any information under the Freedom of Information Act relating to drug inspections from a foreign government agency;

• Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), directing the attorney general to establish uniform standards for the exchange of controlled substance and prescription information for the purpose of preventing diversion, fraud and abuse of controlled substances and other prescription drugs; and,

• Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), to require an independent assessment of the FDA's review of drug applications.

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Also by unanimous consent, the Senate approved an amendment from Portman to place synthetic drugs on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Harkin also announced that another amendment from Coburn would be withdrawn — a proposal to require the Health and Human Services secretary to ensure that performance awards are connected to employee evaluations.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday morning that he hoped some of the remaining 11 amendments to the FDA bill could be handled quickly. With the four unanimous consent votes, seven roll-call votes remain before final passage. These votes are scheduled for 2 p.m., but Reid said he hoped they might start earlier.