SILVER SPRING, MD. — The Alliance for a Stronger F.D.A. commended the Trump administration for a record funding increase contained in a 2019 budget request while noting the challenges ahead as the Food and Drug Administration works to implement new food safety regulations.
The alliance said the $473 million funding increase will allow proper oversight of programs that boost public health, public safety and an innovation economy. Most of the requested funding was slated to expand the F.D.A.’s capabilities in moving innovative drugs — and safe, high-quality generic versions — and medical devices through the approval process and into the marketplace.
“This budget represents an enormous vote of confidence in F.D.A., a recognition that the agency is doing its job well and making a critical public health difference,” said Ladd Wiley, executive director of the alliance. “We thank President Trump for this clear sign of his appreciation and support for the F.D.A.’s work and the leadership of Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.”
The alliance, a group of about 150 patient and consumer groups, biomedical research advocates, health professional societies, individuals and industry, said food safety programs would receive a small increase if the proposed budget is realized.
The F.D.A. falls under the Department of Health and Human Services, for which $68.4 billion has been requested. Of that, total, F.D.A. resources would be $5.8 billion, an increase of $633 million, or 13%, from the 2018 budget. The 2019 budget request called for $1.4 billion for food safety across F.D.A. programs, an increase of $10 million, or 0.9%, from the 2018 continuing resolution. The budget allows $6 million for food reinspection and $1 million for food recalls, both flat from the previous year’s budget.
The D.H.S.’s summary of its proposed budget said the department will address overlapping and burdensome food regulation through expansion of the F.D.A.’s cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The budget specifies the F.D.A. will evaluate whether states will have an increased role in inspecting large farming operations and work with small farms as they prepare for compliance with the F.D.A. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
“The funding of food safety programs clearly needs a boost given the F.D.A.’s multi-year responsibility for implementing the FSMA and the continuing challenges in this area,” said Thomas Gremillion, an alliance board member and director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America. “FSMA represents a fundamental change in philosophy and programming, and the agency needs more resources to effectively implement the law.”
An alliance board member said the president’s proposed budget will help the F.D.A. with staffing. “Unlike most federal agencies, more than 80% of the F.D.A.’s budget is dedicated to its personnel needs,” said Cynthia Bens, senior vice-president of public policy at Personalized Medicine Coalition. “The president’s budget request will help ensure that the agency can secure and retain the highly trained workforce required to carry out its mandate.”
The alliance said it would issue a detailed analysis of the proposed F.D.A. budget after further review.