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US lawmakers call for FDA office in Israel

Published on 26/11/19 at 11:57am
Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chair of the DNC, was among the advocates for the move.

A bipartisan group of 21 US members of Congress has called for the establishment of an FDA office in Israel, in a letter sent Friday to Alex Azar, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The letter said that Israel was a ‘‘global leader in innovation’’ and its ‘‘world class medical research programmes have spurred breakthrough developments in medical technologies, pharmaceuticals and other advancements in medicine that have positively impacted the global health system.’’ It added that establishing an FDA office in Israel would ‘‘facilitate collaboration in life-saving research and is a natural step for strengthening the special relationship between our countries’’.

The letter went on to outline the economic benefits of a closer medical relationship with Israel and said that: ‘‘Some of Israel’s largest exports to the United States are pharmaceuticals and medical instruments, which accounted for approximately $5.3 billion in 2018. Agricultural exports total an additional $400 million annually. We believe placing a regional FDA office in Israel would build on this mutually beneficial cooperation by improving avenues for communication between researchers and regulators and shortening the application process for Israeli companies interested in exporting these goods to the United States.”

If approved, this would expand the FDA’s global operation that already has offices in 13 other countries including the UK, China, Italy and India. The letter, from members of Congress, said this international presence facilitates ‘‘proactive and consistent engagement with stakeholders’’ and it helps officials make ‘‘the best informed decision when determining if products may enter the United States.’’

It would also signal another area where the relationship between Israel and the United States has grown closer under the conservative governments of Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump.

Conor Kavanagh

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