Questions about the safety and purity of food and dietary supplements continue to make their way into the mainstream media. In addition, FDA has additional task surrounding the latest round of GMP implentation. In response, advocacy by organizations like the Alliance for a Stronger FDA have prompted a dramatic increase in the agency's budget.
"Our coalition was founded in 2006 with the specific goal of getting increased appropriations for the FDA," said Steven Grossman, deputy executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA. "One thing that makes us unique is that we represent all of the stakeholders in this issue — companies, consumer and patient groups, trade associations. The FDA is an agency that has been neglected for so long, and we believe they should have the resources to do their job."
The Alliance has helped secure a 50 per cent increase in the agency's budget over the past three years. "In 2008, the agency was appropriated $1.57 billion, and we've helped add over $750 million to that," Grossman said.
Now the group is focusing its efforts on accountability, and it has issued a press release in support of the agency's new self-monitoring initiative. Called the FDA TRACK program, it is part of a larger federal government effort to increase transparency. The TRACK program will eventually have as many as 1,000 metrics covering every office and program in the agency.
"The final rollout of the GMPs and the accountability of the FDA — those two things go together," Grossman said. "The GMPs reflect the FDA's efforts to set standards on behalf of the American people. They need to have enough resources and manpower to be able to do that."
While the healthy foods industry has advocated passionately for the new GMP regulations — recognizing that slack companies hurt the reputations of committed ones — food and supplement organizations are notably absent from the Alliance for a Stronger FDA's roster.
When asked to review his Alliance member list, Grossman replied, "It looks like we have The Council for Responsible Nutrition, the Consumer Health Care Products Association, and the Personal Care Products Association. As for any natural food groups or companies, we don't have any."