Congressional Republicans are backing a blanket federal hiring freeze that could hurt economic growth and stall or even reverse efforts to ensure that U.S. citizens get quality medicines. Two new reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office find that the Food and Drug Administration needs more overseas drug inspectors to protect American consumers by checking overseas production facilities.
GAO found in 2008 that the FDA spent most of its time looking into companies that had applied to produce a new drug instead of those already producing drugs for the U.S. market. In response the FDA set up overseas offices in the last two years and dispatched 42 staff to do two-year work rotations abroad.
But the FDA is challenged to fill positions in some of the new office locations, the GAO found, notably after staff reported a reduction in their pay when they went overseas.
Under a hiring freeze the FDA would potentially not be able to bring in new overseas staff, making it more difficult for the agency to monitor incoming drugs. This is yet another reason why the freeze is a bad idea.
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