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Rep. takes FDA commissioner to task


WASHINGTON House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., blasted Food and Drug Administration commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach yesterday stating that he wasn’t doing his job and hasn’t asked for enough money to inspect foreign drug manufacturers, according to published reports.

Dingell pointed his finger at von Eschenbach and repeatedly asked the FDA chief how much it would cost to conduct more inspections, and the representative even objected when von Eschenbach didn’t provide specific answers.

“You cannot do your job, you are not doing your job,” Dingell told von Eschenbach, who was a witness at the hearing before the energy and commerce panel’s investigations subcommittee. “You simply are absolutely incapable of addressing your responsibilities.”

Von Eschenbach said the FDA is doing more overseas inspections than ever before, although he agreed with lawmakers that still more are needed. He repeatedly said the U.S. must take other actions as well, adding that more frequent inspections wouldn’t have detected the tainted heparin.

According to the Government Accountability Office, it would cost the agency at least $67 million to conduct inspections at the more than 3,200 foreign drug manufacturing sites that the FDA has listed. The FDA, however, only plans to spend about $11 million this year for all foreign inspections.

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