Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 426) recognizing the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Food and Drugs Act for the important service it provides the Nation, as amended.
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks on this legislation and to insert extraneous material on the bill.
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of House Concurrent Resolution 426, a resolution offered by the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Joe Barton of Texas, and the ranking member of the committee, Mr. John Dingell of Michigan.
Today the House is honoring the 100th anniversary of the Food and Drug Administration, an organization responsible for ensuring the gold standard of safety for the medical products Americans use and the foods we consume.
For a century now, the dedicated public servants at FDA have worked professionally and tirelessly to promote public health by regulating drugs, biologics, medical devices and cosmetics in a science-based way. As a result of their continued efforts, the United States stands alone, rightfully laying claim to the safest and most effective medical product supply in the world.
Additionally, the agency's vigilant work on food safety protects us against natural and man-made threats to the safety of the foods we eat.
The long-standing tradition of professionalism and diligence of this importance agency, which regulates roughly 25 percent of our gross domestic product, continues today under the able leadership of the Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach. Under his leadership, the FDA enters its second century of service, with both a broad history and a bright future.
As chairman of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, I look forward to continuing to work closely with Dr. von Eschenbach and his agency's outstanding staff on many important public health issues. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Dr. von Eschenbach and the more than 10,000 civil servants for their continued service to the American people who are safer and healthier because of their efforts.
Again, I would like to commend Chairman Barton and Ranking Member Dingell for offering this worthy resolution and for their strong leadership on FDA-related issues. I encourage all of my colleagues to support this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Speaker, I want to express my appreciation to my good friend and colleague from Texas (Mr. Gene Green) for providing me with this opportunity.
As we have heard, Mr. Speaker, next week the Food and Drug Administration turns 100 years old, and it is unfortunate that this agency is not making laudatory headlines as it celebrates such an auspicious occasion.
Instead, the Food and Drug Administration is at the nadir of its trustworthiness with the American people. Its basic defense of the public health has simply been perverted in the name of so-called conservative interests.
As a member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee which has oversight over the Food and Drug Administration, I have been frustrated by the agency's cozy relationship with the pharmaceutical industry whose products it is supposed to regulate.
In 2001, fees paid by the drug companies funded 32 percent of the FDA's budget for drugs. Today, that figure is nearly 50 percent, and it is expected to go higher. Making matters worse, the FDA must negotiate with the drug industry on how those user fees are allocated. This financial dependency, along with the FDA's constant negotiations with companies over how to spend the fees, is the foundation for the conflict of interest that exists between the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry and others
it is supposed to regulate.
I have been alarmed that financial conflicts of interest are waived by the FDA among its advisory committee members. The agency relies heavily on these scientists and these experts to guide policy when questions arise concerning medical treatments. When the FDA allows conflicted scientists to serve on these boards, events that have occurred over 100 times already during this fiscal year alone, the public health is obviously jeopardized at the expense of inappropriate personal interests.
I have been saddened by the stories I have heard from American families who have paid the price for mismanagement of this agency. I have met with many of these families on the efforts by the FDA to preempt their right to sue pharmaceutical companies in local and State courts. These families must be allowed to seek the understanding and justice they are owed after their loved ones are injured or killed from an adverse reaction to a product regulated by the FDA. I will meet with some of these families
again later next week. [Page: H4359]
For these and many other reasons, I and many of my Democratic colleagues have introduced legislation, the FDA Improvement Act and others, to address many of the loopholes that currently exist at this agency. This legislation would sever the financial links between the FDA and the drug companies. It would restore the independence of the FDA. It would strengthen the agency's efforts to guarantee post-market drug safety. It would eradicate conflicts of interest on FDA advisory boards. It would restore
the public trust in this very critically important agency.
Last month, the Wall Street Journal and Harris Interactive released a poll on public perceptions of the job that the FDA is doing on the safety of prescription drugs. Only 36 percent of the adults polled believe that the agency was doing a good job on ensuring the safety and efficacy on new prescription drugs. Eighty-two percent of the people polled believed that the FDA's decisions are influenced by politics over medical science to a great extent or at least to some extent.
According to its own Web site, the FDA is our country's oldest consumer protection agency. It should be given the authority to do its job independently, and the administration should sufficiently use that authority to protect the American people. It is a two-step process.
Yesterday, the American Association of Retired Persons reported that prices for brand-name pharmaceuticals jumped nearly 4 percent during the first 3 months of this year alone. The men and women paying for these drugs should be able to trust in the safety and the efficacy of the products for which they are paying so dearly.
The Food and Drug Administration's 100th anniversary should be a time of celebration, and if we are going to make it such, we have to bring forward legislation to the floor of this House, legislation which makes the Food and Drug Administration free and independent, legislation which reestablishes the arm's-length relationship between the regulator and the regulated. That arm's-length relationship has completely disappeared because the FDA has become financially dependent upon the agency, the
entities, the corporations, the drug companies that it is supposed to regulate, and that regulation has fallen apart.
Let us bring forward legislation to the floor of this House which improves the FDA and protects the American people.
Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, again, I know I do not have the right to close, but I just encourage passage of this bill and recognize the 100 years, not that it is perfect, but we are still working on it, particularly in our committee, and encourage passage of the resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back my time.
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, we are not here today to say that the Food and Drug Administration is infallible. They certainly have made mistakes, as I am sure every Member of this body has made mistakes.
We are here, though, to say that over the past 100 years, there have been tens of thousands of FDA employees who have dedicated their lives to ensuring that our food and our medical products are safe. Time and again, Congress has entrusted fundamental safety responsibilities to the FDA.
We do not have a perfect system, but because of the dedicated public servants at the FDA, the United States stands alone as having the safest and most effective medical products supply in the world.
In 2002, we entrusted the FDA with new authorities to protect our food supply from terrorist threats. Every day, the employees at the FDA go to work to protect the best interests of the American people.
Although we may have disagreements over particular issues, we are better off as a country by having the dedicated individuals at the FDA working for the American people. We should not politicize a resolution that seeks to recognize their hard work. Mr. Speaker, I urge the adoption of this concurrent resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.