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Lawmakers are approaching a bipartisan deal to resolve the ongoing dispute over whether to let the Defense Department approve medical products in an emergency, Sen. Patty Murray told me yesterday.

The issue: A provision in this year's defense authorization bill would permit the Defense Department to allow the use of certain medical products — such as freeze-dried plasma — on the battlefield, even if they haven't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

  • That touched off a bipartisan rebellion from members of the Senate HELP Committee, who feared the provision would undermine the FDA's authority and the rigorously controlled process it uses to evaluate new treatments.

The deal: Product reviews remain solely within the FDA's jurisdiction, but would give the Pentagon new powers to get the FDA to expedite those reviews, according to the agreement reached between Murray and Sen. Lamar Alexander.

  • Under the agreement, if the defense secretary asks for it, the FDA "shall take action to expedite the development and review of an applicable application" for relevant medical products.
  • Officials from the FDA would have to meet quarterly with Pentagon officials to figure out the military's top priorities (the bill specifically mentions freeze-dried plasma as one of those priorities).
  • The FDA already has the power to allow the use of unapproved drugs in emergency situations, as it did with experimental Ebola treatments in 2014, and the Pentagon can already have a say in that process. This agreement would tweak those rules to give the Pentagon some more flexibility.

What's next? A Senate committee aide told me this is the deal that's likely to become final. While it's not clear how this would get passed — on its own or as an attachment to something else— Congress does not seem interested in slowing down the defense bill to address this.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

American officials and authorities in Haiti are working to try and free 17 hostages from a U.S.-based missionary group who were kidnapped in Port-au-Prince over the weekend, AP reported Monday.

The latest: Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement Sunday, "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children." The Ohio-based organization said they were on a trip to visit an orphanage when they were kidnapped Saturday.

China's economic growth slows

A worker assembles heavy truck engines in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, on Monday. Photo: Long We/Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

China's economy grew 4.9% in the third quarter of 2021 compared with a year earlier, the country's National Bureau of Statistics announced Monday.

Why it matters: The gross domestic product growth in the July-September period in the world’s second-largest economy marked the "weakest pace since the third quarter of 2020 and slowing from 7.9% in the second quarter," Reuters notes.

5 hours ago - World

Former spy Steele defends controversial Trump Russia dossier

Former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele arrives at the High Court in London in July 2020. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The author of the "Steele Dossier," containing unverified claims about former President Trump told ABC News he stands by his controversial report, according to excerpts from an upcoming documentary released Sunday.

Why it matters: The FBI drew on former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele's dossier as part of its investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged links to Russia's government, which led to former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.