Dow Jones Newswire:

Dow Jones Newswire: "Union Praises Senate For Seeking FDA Funding Boost"

(Recasts lede and updates with Dingell statement)

By Jared A. Favole


WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Democrats seeking to boost funding for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found support Thursday from a key federal employees union.

The president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150, 000 federal employees, said the recent move by a bipartisan group of senators urging their budget panel colleagues to hike FDA funding shows "that the Senate will not turn a deaf ear to the nation''s public health needs."

The FDA has come under intense scrutiny in recent months in the wake of contamination problems with Baxter International Inc.''s (BAX) heparin, a widely used blood thinner that has been linked to 81 deaths. Congressional hearings over the last several weeks have highlighted the FDA''s need for more resources, particularly to help ensure the safety of drugs imported from abroad.

A powerful House Democrat continued pressing for increased FDA funding on Thursday. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., held a hearing on legislation to boost the FDA funding for inspections of foreign drugs. He has proposed legislation that would give the FDA about $300 million for foreign inspections.

"It is evident to almost everyone else - from the experts to our constituents - that the agency is starved for resources and cannot meet its basic responsibilities," Dingell said in a statement Thursday.

The National Treasury Employees Union is backing an effort by a bipartisan group of 19 Senate lawmakers to urge the Senate appropriations committee to boost in funding for the FDA. The lawmakers'' letter urges more funding for domestic and foreign inspection programs.

"The FDA''s budgets have not adequately reflected the critical role (the agency) plays in our nation''s food safety system or its increasing responsibilities," the letter says, according to the union''s press release.

-By Jared A. Favole, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9207; jared.favole@

(END) Dow Jones Newswires 05-01-08 1425ET Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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