“Bipartisan” is not heard often in Washington lately. But policy makers from both parties recently united in their recognition of the importance of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). With strong bipartisan support, Congress passed the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, which President Obama signed into law this week.
The bill reauthorizes more than $6 billion in user fees that the FDA collects from the drug and medical device industries over the next five years to fund a share of the agency's review of drugs and medical devices.
The bill passed in the Senate 92-4 and passed in the House by a voice vote. Why the overwhelming bipartisan support? As Sen. Lamar Alexander pointed out in his remarks on the Senate floor, half of Americans take at least one prescription drug each day, and “we rely upon the Food and Drug Administration to keep those medicines safe and effective, which is what this legislation is about.”
While these user fees will pay for specific, designated functions of the FDA, they will not be used to supplement the general budget of the FDA, which regulates thousands of products that each American uses every day – from toothpaste to infant formula, and microwave ovens to over-the-counter drugs. If Congress agrees that it is imperative to fund the crucial work of the FDA through this legislation, we hope the same bipartisan coalition will support an increase in FDA authorizations in FY2013 to perform the rest of its critical functions.
We’re tipping our hat to our Members of Congress for recognizing that the FDA strengthens our biomedical research and development system, fosters innovation,and creates jobs – and for proving that they can indeed rally around policies that truly matter.