By Lyndsey Layton
Monday, February 1, 2010; 4:23 PM
The Food and Drug Administration would see a 6 percent jump in its budget to $2.51 billion. The agency's total resources would reach about $4 billion because of user fees it expects to collect from food, tobacco and drug industries.
The agency would hire 1,251 additional full-time employees, bringing the workforce total to 13,586.
A large chunk of the additional funds would be spent on food safety, which has been flagged by Obama as a domestic priority. The FDA is reorganizing the way it monitors the production of food, with plans to step up inspections of domestic and foreign food suppliers, expand its laboratory capacity, and improve its ability to trace the source of an outbreak of food illness, among other things.
Some say the budget is overly optimistic because it depends on $250 million in user fees from food producers that have not yet been approved by Congress. The user fees are part of a bill passed by the House last year but which seems stalled in the Senate. The bill would also give significant new legal powers to the FDA to stop tainted food from getting to market.
"No one knowledgeable about the FDA thinks it can do a credible job improving food safety in the U.S. without a far larger increase in funding than Obama has managed to eke out of his frozen budget and without dramatically strengthened legal authority," said Rena Steinzor, who teaches at the University of Maryland Law School and is president of the Center for Progressive Reform.
The agency also says it will use the additional funds to approve more generic drugs and generic biologics, improve the safety surveillance of medical devices and make that data more widely available to physicians, the public and researchers. FDA officials say they need new resources to be able to scrutinize and set standards for drugs and medical devices that spring from nanotechnology and other modern scientific advancements.
For the full budget, click here.