Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told an appropriations subcommittee Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration woefully lacks resources to ensure that food and drugs are safe.
Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, which oversees health issues, said the FDA has 1,000 fewer employees than it did 10 years ago.Also, Congress has given it responsibility to oversee 23 new programs since 1980 that would require 490 new people to properly administer.
That makes it hard, for example, for the FDA to handle such recent responsibilities as ensuring the blood supply is free from AIDS, and that apples and other fruits are safe from dangerous chemicals, he said.
So, Hatch asked the subcommittee to add $89 million to the Bush administration's proposed $473 million FDA allocation.
Hatch said he also plans to introduce legislation to revitalize the FDA, and hopes the Appropriations Committee will fund it.
Hatch said the FDA receives 15,000 applications a year for approval of new drugs - and the average length is 100,000 pages. Because the FDA doesn't have computers to handle applications, they are delivered in the form of reams and reams of paper.