| WASHINGTON April 18
WASHINGTON April 18 The head of the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration asked Congress for more money on
Thursday to address food safety, security and inspections, but
said the agency is working hard to control costs and is a "true
bargain" for Americans.
"We have made belt-tightening a priority," FDA Commissioner
Margaret Hamburg told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.
Among FDA's priorities are new food safety regulations,
improving inspections of imported goods, and developing
countermeasures against chemical and biological threats.
The FDA's proposed budget for 2014 would increase by $821
million to $4.7 billion over 2012, of which industry fees would
account for $770 million, or 94 percent. The 2013 budget has not
yet been finalized.
While the agency has requested more funds in certain areas,
it has suggested decreased funding in others, including funding
for drug and medical device programs.
Hamburg said FDA's responsibilities have expanded in the
wake of new laws designed to protect Americans from food-borne
illnesses, infectious diseases and radiological and nuclear
"FDA is a true bargain among federal agencies," Hamburg
said. "Americans each pay about $8 a year for FDA's
appropriations, which is substantially less than the amount
Americans spend each year on snack chips alone."
For about 2 cents a day, she said, "Americans get an
extraordinary array of public health benefits."
Hamburg said one the agency's greatest challenges is to
respond to the globalization of the food and drug supply chain.
She noted that over the past decade the number of imported
shipments of FDA-regulated products has soared.
In 2012, she said, about 28 million shipments of imported
food and medical products were imported, including 50 percent of
the country's fresh fruits, 20 percent of fresh vegetables, 80
percent of seafood and 40 percent of drugs.
"The world has changed and our historical regulatory
approaches and tools - such as hoping to intercept products at
our borders - are outdated and often inadequate," she said.
"If we are to continue to promise Americans a safe food and
drug supply, FDA must continue to transform itself, from a
primarily domestic agency to one that uses innovative global
strategies to secure a vast global supply chain."
(Reporting By Toni Clarke, editing by Ros Krasny and Doina