[to top of second column]
"That makes for a completely untenable position for people trying to make decisions in the health care capital markets," said Brozak, who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2004.
Last year the FDA missed review deadlines on more than 12 drugs, or more than 20 percent of those received, analysts estimate. The agency's internal goal is to miss no more than 10 percent. FDA officials have blamed one-time problems, including an influx of new staffers.
Experts say there's no reason the agency that assures the safety of complex, $3,000-a-month biotech drugs is also tasked with regulating $3 jars of peanut butter.
The Government Accountability Office endorsed a single food agency in 1999, and lawmakers have been trying unsuccessfully to realize it ever since.
Splitting FDA would likely mean reshuffling committees that oversee food and drug regulation, which could diminish clout and contributions for some lawmakers.
"Once you get an idea like this on Capitol Hill, it creates winners and losers in power and dollars, and when that happens, it usually results in a stalemate," said Patrick Ronan, a former FDA staffer and founder of GreenLeaf Health consultants.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., have narrowed their proposals in order to gain support.
DeLauro previously aimed to consolidate food responsibilities, including the USDA's, into one agency, which proved to be politically tricky. Her current bill would carve a separate agency out of FDA with additional powers, including ordering recalls, which are now voluntary, and increasing food inspections.
The congresswoman said she welcomes Obama's formation of a food safety task force, but showed no sign of backing away from her proposal. The task force must not be "merely a cosmetic bureaucratic endeavor," she said in a statement.
"The working group must produce definitive recommendations that result in the modernization of our food safety regulatory structure."
Durbin's bill similarly would expand FDA powers and would add $775 million to its budget to bolster food safety. Currently, the FDA's $1.9 billion federal budget is supplemented by more than $300 million in application fees paid by drugmakers to fund speedy reviews.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Recent articles
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor