Chairman Bishop Statement at Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Food and Drug Administration Hearing

2022-05-19 10:03

Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Chair of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Food and Drug Administration Hearing:

I want to welcome all of you to today’s hearing. The hearing this morning is to review the Food and Drug Administration’s fiscal year 2023 budget request. Our witness is the Commissioner of FDA, Dr. Robert Califf.

Before we begin with hearing proceedings, I’d like to welcome a new member to our subcommittee.  Ms. Julia Letlow, representing the Fifth District of Louisiana, was recently selected to join us.  Welcome to the wonderful world of agriculture appropriations.

Dr. Califf, we would first like to congratulate you on your recent confirmation as Commissioner. It had been over a year since the FDA had a permanent leader during a time when the agency continues to have vast and ever-growing responsibilities. 

FDA continues to play a vital role in ensuring the safety and efficacy of vaccines and drugs designed to address the coronavirus.  However, there are countless other ways your work matters to Americans, and we need to ensure those critical responses get the attention they need. 

I expect much of our conversation today to discuss the overall safety and effectiveness of the products under FDA’s purview and improvements that can be made on both the food and medical sides.

Aside from COVID-19, a myriad of other public health challenges, including combatting the opioid crisis, youth tobacco use, and new tobacco product standards on flavors all have real world impact on Americans and their health. 

At the forefront of many minds right now is the critically low supply of infant formula affecting so many families.  The American people rely on FDA to protect infant health by ensuring they have access to safe formula.  I would like to later discuss what FDA is doing to mitigate shortages and what changes can be made to improve the inspection process of manufacturers. This includes harmful delays and inaction on warnings at the Sturgis, Michigan, facility. The Agency received reports as early as September 2021, but did not inspect the associated facility until January 2022, which is unconscionable.

I would also like to hear plans to address the backlog of foreign inspections and plans to conduct foreign inspections moving forward. Many know all too well that over 75% of active drug ingredients are provided by foreign countries, including some with poor safety profiles. Given concerns about drug manufacturing  in foreign countries, these facilities must be held accountable and treated equitably with U.S. manufacturers. 

Unfortunately, food related illness stemming from outbreaks of E. Coli and salmonella, toxic levels of heavy metals in baby foods and other food related health concerns continues to be of concern. 

Citizens put their trust in FDA’s regulation and oversight every time they sit down for a meal or take a pill and they deserve an FDA that is at the top of its game. 

We want to work with you to help modernize FDA so that you can carry out your mission of protecting the health and safety of all Americans.

I want to thank you for being with us today and I look forward to our discussion. Lastly, I wish to commend the commitment and talent at the agency. While certain issues may exist, we recognize the commitment of those that work at the agency.

In that vein, a special shout-out to the leadership and staff at the Center for Biologics and the Center for Devices for their monumental effort to get us vaccines and tests for COVID-19.

117th Congress