WASHINGTON - The FDA is to receive a boost in President George Bush's proposed budget for FY05, which also calls for more funding to support the fight against HIV/AIDS and to increase the availability of flu vaccines.

"The FDA got the biggest increase of all the [Health and Human Services] agencies, and that's why Mr. McClellan is sitting all the way over there by himself," Tommy Thompson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, jokingly told those gathered to learn the details of the proposed budget. "The budget consists of $580 billion in outlays, which is an increase of $32 billion over fiscal '04, and includes $67 billion in discretionary spending," Thompson added.

The budget request for FDA totals $216.7 million, which is an increase of $25.6 million over last fiscal year, Thompson noted.

The proposed increase is bolstered by a total of $33.9 million in user fees, which is an increase of $2.3 million over FY04, according to the budget. "The president felt that the FDA needed additional dollars to advance MDUFMA [Medical Device User Fee and Modernization Act]. We didn't put money in last year, and we've put in $28 million this year to make up for it so that medical technologies can get reviewed quicker," Thompson explained.

"FDA is committed to reaching all of the original performance goals negotiated in MDUFMA through FY 2008," explained FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan. "The proposed budget increase for the medical device review program, along with the user fees, will enable us to move aggressively to meet those goals," he said.

Other winners in the president's budget include community health centers fighting HIV/AIDS, pediatric vaccination programs, bioterrorism research programs and a new bio-surveillance initiative announced last week, Thompson explained.

"HHS has a new initiative to spend $80 million over the next two fiscal years to purchase additional flu vaccine under the Vaccines for Children program. With HHS buying 4 million to 6 million doses of pediatric vaccine each year, we will help ensure that manufacturers produce enough vaccine to help prevent shortfalls in the coming years," Thompson said.

Community health centers will play a key role in increasing access to health care for the nation's minorities and poor, Thompson said. The administration has expanded access for an additional 3 million people over the last three years through 614 new and expanded community health center sites, he noted.

"The investment in HIV/AIDS is part of an unprecedented and growing dedication to fighting the disease at home and abroad. The department's total HIV/AIDS budget request is $15 billion - a 31 percent increase over fiscal year 2001. Simply put, no administration in any nation has ever committed the time, energy and resources to fighting AIDS President Bush," Thompson said.

Funding for food security initiatives at FDA includes $181 million, a 56 percent increase over FY04, to increase the number of inspections to 97,000 per year, noted Thompson. At the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., the bioterrorism budget is slated for an increase from $121 million to $1.7 billion to fund basic research on bioterror-related agents, Thompson said.