I am traveling outside the Beltway and having to meet real people (so you know I’m not in L.A!). It is a nice change, though I have to say, the nation is frigid! It was -3 degrees when I got up this morning!
While I was gone, here is what has been afoot in Washington:
- Tobacco Legislation Reportedly Near Senate Introduction – Imagine if tobacco products were regulated by the FDA – what kind of risk/benefit ratio would that be? Well, you may find out if some members of Congress are successful – Senators Kennedy and Cornyn and Congressmen Waxman and Davis are reportedly close to introducing legislation. The legislation would prevent tobacco advertising aimed at children; prevent the sale of tobacco to children; help smokers overcome addiction; identify and reduce toxic constituents of cigarette smoke; regulate claims about risk-reduction tobacco products; and prevent tobacco firms from misleading the public about the dangers of smoking. It is doubtful that this will go nearly far enough for most anti-smoking advocates. Senator Kennedy will hold a HELP hearing on the legislation on February 27, 2007.
- FDA Slammed at Congressional Hearings – Speaking of hearings, one held this week on the Hill featured current and ex-employees of the FDA leveling some pretty serious soundbytes that could likely stick. For example one former FDA physician quoted in the Washington Times cited the FDA for its "culture of approval". How that is necessarily a bad thing is unclear, but it is clear that it sounds like a bad thing. Amazingly, the FDA was not invited to testify.
- Mental Health Parity Legislation Passed Out of Committee – Speaking of HELP (are you enjoying these segways?) – the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that Mental Health Parity Legislation (S. 558) was voted out of committee this week. If it passes, it is just one of many pieces of mental health legislation needed in this country to address the glaring problems of mental health in this country.
As soon as the legislation text becomes available, it will be added to Eye on FDA’s Legislative roll. For those of you getting Monday off for President’s Day, have a good long weekend. For the rest of us, hustle up your relaxation!