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Frustrated House Panel Threatens to Subpoena FDA

Reuters staff

WASHINGTON - A Congressional committee on Thursday threatened to subpoena the Food and Drug Administration unless the agency responds to lawmakers' requests for documents about U.S. drug and food safety.

Rep. John Dingell, the Democratic chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, accused the FDA of dragging its feet in responding to his panel's oversight subcommittee. 0525 04 1

If the FDA does not comply by June 1, Dingell said the panel would issue subpoenas to obtain the information.

The FDA said it was cooperating with lawmakers.

"FDA has been as responsive as possible to document requests from Chairman Dingell and other members of Congress," an FDA spokeswoman said. "We continue to focus our efforts on producing responsive material to our Oversight committee's requests as expeditiously as possible."

Since January, the committee has asked the FDA to provide documents about generic drug approvals, an outbreak of salmonella in peanut butter, post-market surveillance of the antibiotic Ketek, contamination of pet food with ingredients imported from China, and antibiotic resistance linked to wide use of drugs in farm animals.

"The delays and the quality of responses to the committee's requests concerning FDA are unacceptable," Dingell said in a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt. Leavitt's department oversees the FDA.

Dingell also complained that in some instances, the FDA turned over redacted records to the committee without any prior consultations about the redactions.

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited.

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