FDA funding set to jump after Congress votes to avert shutdown

18 February 2019

Congress has just approved a budget deal to avert another government shutdown. The deal, which is due to be signed into law by President Trump, includes the biggest increase in FDA funding in several years.

Trump agreed to sign the deal, despite it featuring far less money for the border wall than he wanted. This occurred one day before the cessation of a temporary funding agreement would have triggered another government shutdown. Once Trump backed the bill, the House and Senate subsequently voted in favour of it by large majorities.

The bill includes $3 billion in discretionary funding for the FDA, around $100 million less than was requested in the president’s budget. However, it still represents a $269 million, which is a 9%, increase over 2018.

The FDA’s Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) fared significantly better than other parts of the agency. When FDA submitted its budget request for 2018, it listed the annualised budget for CDER, excluding user fees and field work, at $353 million. This year, CDER is set to receive $525 million, an increase of almost 50%, despite Congress approving slightly less funding than requested. 

While the overall increase in CDER funding is huge, Congress and the FDA have different ideas about how the money should be used. Congress has approved $43 million for a “new platform for drug development." This is lower than the $58 million requested by the FDA for this purpose.

The money that the FDA wanted for the drug development platform looks set to go towards other areas, including addressing the opioid epidemic. The FDA asked for an additional $10 million to tackle this crisis.

Despite some elements differing from original FDA requests, the overall result is that the FDA has successfully obtained a big hike in funding, which is particularly notable in light of Trump’s early opposition to increasing spending.

The Alliance for a Stronger FDA said they were “extremely pleased” by the appropriations bill and praised FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb and his colleagues for their pitch.

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