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Eye on Washington


Children's hospitals GME reauthorized EPA chief rejects staff recommendations on soot CDC recommends universal HIV screening for teens and adults FDA approves autism drug, lead detection device Preschoolers with ADHD improve on low-dose methylphenidate

Election day has come and gone, and a sobered Congress has returned to Washington to tackle the mound of business left unfinished when it adjourned in October. Still to be dealt with are basic spending bills that fund government operations, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the interim, these and other vital federal agencies limp along at funding levels that were set last year. Pending health care legislation, including Medicare physician reimbursement levels and support for health care information technology, must also be resolved. Still to come: reauthorization (and the possibility of restructuring) of the FDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), mandated for 2007.

Last-but not least-former FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford, DVM, pleaded guilty last month to charges of conflict of interest and lying about his and his wife's ownership of stock companies regulated by the FDA. Permanent appointment of Dr. Crawford's designated successor, Andrew von Eschenbach, MD, is still held up at the behest of two Republican senators who are concerned about drug reimportation and the abortion drug RU-486. Independence of the FDA chief is great interest now, in light of the scathing report about the FDA just released by the Institute of Medicine (see Updates for details on that report).

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