Coalition briefs policymakers on FDA's role as Republicans weigh cuts

A coalition of drug makers and consumer advocates is spreading the word about the Food and Drug Administration's role in the national economy as Republicans weigh sharp cuts to the agency.

The 17-page white paper from the Alliance for a Stronger FDA aims to inform policymakers on the Hill and in the executive branch about the agency's broad reach. The document points out that:

• FDA-regulated industries account for almost 25 percent of consumer spending in the United States;

• The FDA oversees about 167,000 registered domestic food establishments, as well as monitoring 254,000 sites overseas involved in the production and processing of imported food; and

• FDA plays a critical role in protecting the United States against agro-terrorism and bio-terrorism.

"An adequately funded FDA has the potential to be an extraordinary catalyst for the American economy," the report states. "With appropriate funding, the FDA can continue to help drive American innovation and increase the country's competitiveness in the global marketplace, while also serving the public health needs of the American people."

House Republicans last month unveiled a stopgap spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year that would cut $400.2 million from the Obama administration's FDA request for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. The FDA had asked for $4.03 billion, a 23 percent increase over fiscal 2010, including $318 million for enhanced food safety regulations signed into law last year.

The alliance's members include a broad array of nonprofit patient advocacy groups, trade associations and companies.