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FDA confronts new tasks on a tight budget

Mar 5, 2024
Photo illustration of Robert Califf.

FDA commissioner Robert Califf. Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The first six-bill minibus puts the FDA in a familiar position: Having to do more with roughly the same resources.

Why it matters: The agency's $6.72 billion FY2024 allocation does bring some budget certainty after multiple stopgap measures. But regulators have more priorities, including first-time regulation of cosmetics, enhanced food and medical product safety and efforts to reduce animal testing.

By the numbers: The spending package will deliver a 2.4% funding bump, over the $6.56 billion the agency received in FY2023.

  • But it's well south of the Biden administration's budget request of $7.2 billion.
  • The funding will consist of $3.52 billion in discretionary spending and $3.2 billion in industry user fees that fund product evaluations and other functions.
  • Last year, the agency got slightly more in discretionary spending and less from user fees.
  • Virtually every department within the FDA received an increase in funding compared to FY2023.

What's inside: There are some noteworthy nuggets tucked into the spending package.

  • The FDA is getting $7 million to regulate cosmetic products and ingredients — a new task stemming from a 2022 law that Congress passed. It's an open question whether that's enough to assess records and wield mandatory recall authority over products.
  • Senate Democrats noted that the agency will get $50 million to continue implementing the 21st Century Cures Act and $1.5 million to reduce animal testing through alternative methods.
  • House Republicans also touted that the bill would provide no pay increases for employees for FY2024.

Biden's budget request called for increased funding for food safety and nutrition, enhanced medical product safety, public health programs to combat opioid use and for aspects of the Cancer Moonshot.

What they're saying: "In the balance of this fiscal year, FDA will face the challenges of absorbing mandatory pay increases and meeting various congressional priorities and public expectations," said Steven Grossman, executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.

  • "Requiring FDA to do a lot more for the same funding is not a recipe for success."

What we're watching: Whether the minibus hits any snags on the House floor on Wednesday or sails through — and what Biden's next budget holds for the agency when it comes out on Monday.

Remember: The next tranche of funding bills includes Labor-HHS appropriations and has a funding deadline of March 22.

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