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Improvements and Challenges

The US Food and Drug Administration is still beset by workforce issues, reports Ed Silverman at Pharmalot.

In 2007, the FDA Science Board commissioned a report to assess whether FDA could manage current and future regulatory needs, and the report concluded that "FDA's 'scientific workforce does not have sufficient capacity and capability' and the agency is 'not positioned to meet current or emerging regulatory responsibilities,'" the Washington Post's Joe Davidson adds.

This new report, commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts, followed up on that previous work to gauge any improvements. "FDA has made progress since the Science Board issued its findings, including taking steps to expand its workforce," the Pew report says. "But we also found that the FDA continues to have significant workforce and management challenges in the scientific and medical arenas that need to be addressed."

As Silverman notes, FDA has revamped its hiring process. Its human resource office had been part of the Department of Health and Human Services, but was recently moved back to FDA. "The report recommends that the office should focus on 'developing long-term relationships with academic institutions, the private sector and other talent sources to build pipelines for the type of scientific skills' the agency needs in its offices," he writes. "The report, which says the hiring system is 'broken,' adds the FDA needs to make changes in order to compete with industry."

Darla Callaghan, the director of human resources at FDA, tells the Post's Davidson that the agency has made "significant progress in improving our recruitment and retention practices" and that "we take the report findings seriously and will consider the recommendations for addressing the workforce and management challenges."