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Letter to Trump Says Federal Hiring Freeze May Hinder FDA

NEW YORK (360Dx) – Members of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Monday voicing concerns about an across-the-board hiring freeze and its potential impact on "upcoming reauthorization of the user fee programs at the [US] Food and Drug Administration."

The letter noted that the FDA recently completed negotiating user-fee agreements with the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, and that the FDA allocates user-fee revenues, which account for 42 percent of its funding, to meet performance goals that may include specified hiring goals.

"We urge you to consider carefully how instituting a federal hiring freeze will affect FDA," the letter stated. "We would remind the Administration that FDA is tasked with approving novel drugs and medical devices to improve how we prevent and treat medical conditions, as well as approving generic drugs that provide critical competition to the market and affordable access to medications for families."

The letter stated that "hamstringing the ability of our most critical public health agency to hire the personnel needed will hamper FDA’s ability to fulfill its mission and meet the performance metrics."

These abilities include being able to meet timelines for medical product reviews and approvals, which are negotiated with industry under the user fee agreements, the letter stated.

The letter also seeks clarification on whether the hiring authority provided to FDA under the 21st Century Cures Act is subject to the hiring freeze outlined in the memorandum.

In a memorandum released on January 23, the president ordered a freeze on the hiring of federal civilian employees to be applied across the board in the executive branch. "As part of this freeze, no vacant positions existing at noon on January 22, 2017, may be filled and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances," the memorandum stated. 

Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-Texas), and Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) signed the letter.