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CU warns House Appropriation Committee Chair on budget cuts to FDA

October 21, 2005
The Honorable Jerry Lewis
House Appropriations Committee
U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Chairman:
We understand and appreciate the extraordinary budget pressures facing the Congress, but we urge that across-the-board percentage cuts not be applied to the Food and Drug Administration. The recent drug and device safety failures—which have resulted in avoidable and unnecessary deaths and illnesses—point to an agency that needs more, not fewer resources.
Consumers Union is the independent, non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports. American consumers are deeply concerned about the quality and effectiveness of the FDA’s drug safety process. The Vioxx disaster may have resulted in as many as 140,000 unnecessary and avoidable heart attacks and strokes, including some undetermined number of deaths. The recent example of anti-depressants causing suicidality among young people, and the failure of the FDA to quickly warn about problems with certain implanted heart defibrillators are other examples of an agency that has been unable to ensure safety and carry out its duties with its current resources.
The FDA is a basic, public safety agency that is key to the health of the American public. Consumers Union has been urging Congress to thoroughly review FDA operations and provide the agency with additional authorities and resources. If instead the agency suffers an across-the-board budget cut while its workload continues to grow, the danger of undetected safety problems will undoubtedly be increased, not decreased.
Thank you for your consideration of these views.
William Vaughan
Senior Policy Analyst