Politics, Research Institutes

Trump administration doubles down on slashing the budget at NIH, FDA — with a user fee hike for biopharma

President Donald Trump is sticking with a controversial plan to try and carve billions out of the budgets for the NIH and the FDA, looking to slash research spending and force biopharma companies to cough up more cash for drug reviews.

But his proposals are already deep in hot water — and that’s before you start counting Democratic votes. A number of Republican lawmakers have registered their opposition to these kinds of cuts to the NIH and FDA, including some of the party’s most powerful figures.

The fresh controversy over the proposal got started with a glitch on Monday afternoon when the Trump administration prematurely posted the budget proposal for HHS online, then tried to take it down. The Washington Post grabbed it, though, and you can see it here.

Altogether, Trump wants to carve $5.8 billion out of the NIH, with a billion dollars being cut from the National Cancer Institute, $838 million from NIAID and more.

The administration wants to chop close to a billion dollars out of the FDA’s budget and pay for that by getting biopharma and device companies to cover more of the cost of product reviews through higher user fees.

Repubican Senator Lamar Alexander has already told HHS Secretary Tom Price that the user fee issue is a nonstarter for the 2018 budget, noting that lawmakers spent two years negotiating with the industry.

“It is way too late to have an impact on this year’s agreements, which have been negotiated over the last two years,” he wrote to Price, according to a piece in the Wall Street Journal. He added that the Senate’s health committee already overwhelmingly backed the agreed on user fees.

The administration will face similar kickbacks over the NIH attack. This debate over cutting nonmilitary spending to pay for Trump’s preferred efforts has a long way to go, but the president will need to find a way to attract far more support from his own party if he expects to get the new HHS budget in place in line with what he’s proposing.



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