Senate passes key FDA funding bill
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 Sanders (I-Vt.) voting against the measure.
The bipartisan legislation was spearheaded by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (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.
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 Johnson (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.