Congress Prescribes FDA Overhaul

With the Food and Drug Administration about to run out of money and with the agency's commissioner warning of 2,000 layoffs, Congress is on the verge of passing a funding bill for the agency -- a bill that might fix the high profile food and drug safety problems of the last few years.

CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports that perhaps the biggest reform is the price tag itself.

The drug industry will have to pay an extra $225 million over five years to have the FDA review the safety of drugs -- a five-fold increase. Another major change is that drug results from clinical trials in the future will be made public, not kept secret.

Consumer advocates say more information will save lives and that one of the problems with Vioxx is that information linking the drug to heart attacks wasn't made public.

"This was a great day for consumers," says advocate Bill Vaughn. "The FDA will be better able to keep the drug companies honest. And if they know that they can be exposed for hiding drug data and research data, they won't do it in the first place."

"When this bill passes, will a drug like Vioxx be tougher to get on the market?" asks Andrews.

"It'll be tougher to get on the market and much, much faster to get off," Vaughn says.

Other reforms in the bill include increased inspections of seafood, and much tougher regulation of pet food. Under the bill, the FDA gets more power to monitor and test the ingredients of imported pet food.

While the bill is not yet a completely done deal, it overwhelmingly passed the House and the same is expected in the Senate as early as Thursday.

All sides believe the president will eventually sign the bill.

  • Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.