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Senate passes key FDA funding bill

Senate passes key FDA funding bill
© Greg Nash

Senators voted overwhelmingly Thursday to pass a key Food and Drug Administration (FDA) funding bill, sending it to President Trump's desk.

The Senate passed a five-year reauthorization of the FDA’s user fees in a 94-1 vote, with Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump has declared war on our climate — we won’t let him win Stock slide bites boastful Trump, but rising wages great for GOP Millions should march on DC to defeat Trump Republicans MORE (I-Vt.) voting against the measure.

The bipartisan legislation was spearheaded by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSanders wants pharma CEOs to testify on opioid crisis Trump expects us to trade clean air and water for updated infrastructure House GOP warming to ObamaCare fix MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayLawmakers eye retirement help for gig economy workers Overnight Regulation: Labor Department reportedly hid unfavorable report on tip-pooling rule | NY plans to sue EPA over water rule | Senators urge FTC to probe company selling fake Twitter followers Trump's vows to take on drug prices, opioids draw skepticism MORE (D-Wash.), the top lawmakers on the Senate Health Committee, and represents a major contrast from the partisan rancor surrounding the Senate's recent efforts to repeal ObamaCare.

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The bill passed Thursday renews the FDA’s authority to collect fees from the prescription drug and medical device industries, which will account for $8-9 billion over 5 years and is over a quarter of all FDA funding.

The fees help speed up the approval of new drug and devices. The funding reauthorizations are based on recommendations from industry groups and the FDA after a public process, and come about a month before the current user fee agreement is set to expire.

The White House hasn’t said if it will sign the user fee bill. In a statement of administrative policy issued in July after the bill passed the House, the White House expressed concern with some minor provisions, though it did not threaten a veto.

The White House has also urged support for Trump’s budget, which asks industry to finance 100 percent of FDA's premarket review.

“In an era of renewed fiscal restraint, industries that benefit directly from FDA's work should pay for it,” the White House said.

The legislation passed after lawmakers reached a deal with Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold Johnson40 patient advocacy groups oppose 'right to try' drug bill GOP eyes changes to 'right to try' bill Hundreds sign on to letter opposing 'right to try' drug bill MORE (R-Wis.) to hold a separate vote on his “right to try” legislation, which would give terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs that haven’t yet received FDA approval. Johnson’s bill passed by unanimous consent Thursday.