Wednesday, February 28, 2007

FDA Response to Budget Cuts for Office of Women's Health

I received the following response from an FDA representative regarding questions about possible budget freezes within the FDA's Office of Women's Health (message from FDA spokeswoman Julie Zawisza, published with permission):

Rachel,

Thanks for your message. I think there may have been some misunderstanding of how FDA proceeds during the 2OO7 Continuing Resolution process by which FDA develops a spending plan that is approved by Congress. We do not have final budget numbers yet for any of our operating components so it is premature to discuss what the final budget may look like.

Recent press reports discussed preliminary results of an internal numbers exercise, leading to inaccurate and premature reporting. We are still finalizing the 2007 spending plan and intend to apply the same approach to the Office of Women's Health as to other components of the Office of the Commissioner, specifically that the 2007 plan is intended to allow our operating components to spend at least at their 2006 level. This will continue to support our strong commitment to the Office of Women's Health and its role.


I have not yet identified the 2006 spending level figures.

The Washington Post reported in its piece, Women's Health Office Funds Cut, that "The administration had requested -- and Congress had budgeted -- $4 million for the office in fiscal 2007, just as they have for several years running. Last week, however, word came down that the FDA intends to withhold $1.2 million of that, apparently for use elsewhere in the agency. Because the remaining $2.8 million has already been spent or allocated for salaries and started projects, the office must effectively halt further operations for the rest of the year, according to a high-level agency official with knowledge of the budget plan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official is not authorized to speak publicly." The story also mentions concerns that any budget cuts might be retribution for the OWH's support of science-based decision-making on over-the-counter status for Plan B emergency contraception.

The Kaiser Network has an update

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