FDA cancels plan to close labs | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: August 22, 2007

FDA cancels plan to close labs

Decision to retain field labs follows congressional outcry
Department: Government & Policy | Collection: Safety

FDA has decided to scrap plans to close seven of its 13 field laboratories as part of a reorganization effort. Margaret Glavin, FDA assistant commissioner for regulatory affairs, said in a letter to her staff, "To ensure our success and allow additional time to gather input, I am canceling plans for the rollout of all changes to our organizational structure."

FDA field labs inspect and analyze food, drugs, medical devices, and other health products, as well as animal feed and medicines, for contamination. First proposed in December, the closings were part of a streamlining proposal that was supposed to make the agency more efficient. Plans included moving about 250 employees to five multipurpose "megalabs" capable of performing all types of FDA testing (C&EN, Jan. 1, page18).

The closure plan had been heavily criticized by health activist organizations and members of Congress. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the committee's Investigation & Oversight Subcommittee, wrote a letter July 31 to FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach stating that "the agency has yet failed to produce a credible rationale for the laboratory closings." The letter also requested clarification about plans to possibly privatize the government???s testing duties.

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