In June 2016, six former Commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration convened at Aspen Ideas: Health (previously Spotlight Health) to talk about the challenges facing the FDA. From that stage, they publicly announced their consensus view that the FDA should be transformed into an independent federal agency.
“It is a public agency, it is responsible for many things that affect public health, and yet this layering really dampens its ability to be responsive on many issues of importance in a timely fashion. All of those people may be there with sort of the intention of helping out more than overseeing, but that help often stands in the way of doing the right thing that the agency is expected to do. And I think having the agency as an independent agency keeps it accountable in a very visible way.” – Jane Henney, former commissioner of the FDA
The former officials, who served in the Reagan, Clinton, Obama and both Bush administrations, said their next step was to come up with a bipartisan white paper for the next administration.
The Aspen Institute’s Health, Medicine and Society program convened a series of discussions with the Commissioners and in January 2019, a white paper was released to support their shared view that independence is the best pathway for the FDA to meet the scientific challenges of the 21st century.