On Thursday, June 10, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chaired by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), held a hearing entitled, “Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the Food and Drug Administration.” The hearing featured testimony from Dr. Janet Woodcock, Acting Commissioner of FDA.
Before diving into the budget request, Dr. Woodcock spoke briefly about the lessons learned from the pandemic, underscoring the importance of a properly funded FDA as we recover from this public health crisis. While the pandemic was certainly a public health disaster, Dr. Woodcock argued that the blow could have been softened had the FDA not been relying on terminally outdated systems and technology.
Dr. Woodcock went on to explain that the FY2022 budget request represented the FDA’s need to modernize, digitize, and streamline its work. Dr. Woodcock broke the budget request into three main categories: updating critical public health infrastructure, securing medical supply chains and food safety regulation, and fighting public health problems today. In addition to the requested $343 million, the FDA FY22 budget request sought a $100 million increase in user fees on tobacco products to be spent on regulating new and existing nicotine products and preventing youth smoking.
Dr. Woodcock stressed the importance of data modernization and improvements to data systems within the FDA as she discussed her requested increase of $185 million to critical public health infrastructure. Highlighting the limitations of the system and explaining how improved data collection and analysis could significantly speed up wait times for product approvals, identification of threats to public health, and many other important FDA and broader public health operations, like a $38m bump in funding for opioid-related activities.
When questioned by Senators about the ongoing opioid epidemic, Dr. Woodcock stated that addressing the opioid crisis is a top priority at FDA by preventing the entrance of drugs like fentanyl into the country by mail, development, and focusing on the expansion of overdose reversal treatments, staff hiring, and developing better opioid abuse treatments.