Yesterday, February 3, 2007, the New York Times ran an editorial regarding the FDA. It was a decent piece that referred to the fact that is apparently just dawning on some that agency is woefully understaffed and under-equipped to do its job. Duh.
The editorial rightfully points out that at a time when the mandate for the FDA is expanding nearly exponentially considering the rate of foreign imports and other factors, that the person-power and computer support in the agency also needs to expand.
Lump onto that a few other factors, however. Right now, all three front runners for the presidency (Clinton, McCain and Obama) favor importation of drugs. That also will increase the scope of the FDA’s duties. The growth of Internet sales also challenges the agency. The increased scrutiny and oversight be Congress also sucks up resources. And staff morale has suffered greatly during the tenure of this Administration.
Amazingly, today the Administration hands to Congress a budget that makes permanent the tax cuts previously enacted for the short term and cuts just about all areas in healthcare domestic spending, including Medicare and Medicaid to name a few.
But what the FDA needs is not only cash, it needs strong leadership that is dedicated to calling attention to the needs of the agency and is willing to advocate for them. It requires leadership that is willing to say – these are the problems, these are what we’re going to do about them and this is what we need to accomplish the job. Without that, and with increasingly competitive interests, the agency is likely to continue in the same vein it has for the past six years, to no one’s benefit.