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Senate Passes Drug-Safety Reforms to Prevent Future Vioxx-type,Disasters; House Urged to Act on Strong Drug Safety Bill

have seen repeated violations of drug-company promises to comply with FDA requests, and the agency desperately needs tools to ensure companies keep these promises," Vaughan said.

* Help get affordable generic medicines on the market more quickly by blocking the frivolous use of citizen petitions to delay the entry of generics on the market. Only three of 42 citizen petitions answered between 2001 and 2005 raised issues that merited changes in the agency's policies about a drug, yet they can often delay generic getting on the market.

* Improve food safety by developing a registry of dangerous food contamination incidents, and work with states to strengthen standards and procedures to improve safety of processed produce. The amendment from Sen. Durbin (D-Ill.) also directs FDA to issue processing, ingredient and labeling standards for pet food.

"The is a useful first step, but Congress needs to do much, much more if we are to avoid continued problems like we have had this year with spinach, peanut butter, and pet food," said Sally Greenberg, senior policy analyst. "Food safety, like drug safety, is a major concern for American families, and consumers want strong laws to ensure their food is as safe as possible."

Consumers Union supports legislation that would give the FDA mandatory recall authority over tainted food -- currently food recalls are voluntary -- and the creation of a single food agency to coordinate oversight of safety functions, which currently is split among 15 federal agencies.

Sens. Dorgan and Snowe's drug reimportation proposal was effectively negated by an amendment requiring the FDA to certify all reimported drugs safe, which the FDA has been reluctant to do. Consumers Union urges Congress to reconsider drug reimportation later this session to provide some immediate, needed financial relief for Americans who can't afford their medications.

"Reimportation is an important interim step to immediately helping t
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