A bipartisan group of 21 US lawmakers has called for the establishment of a Food and Drug Administration regional office in Israel.
In a letter sent on Friday to Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, the lawmakers wrote: “As a global leader in innovation, Israel’s world-class medical research programs have spurred breakthrough developments in medical technologies, pharmaceuticals, and other advancements in medicine that have positively impacted the global health system.”
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“We believe 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,” they went on.
The FDA currently operates 13 regional offices across the world, including in China, India, Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico, Belgium, Italy, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Jordan. These global posts, the lawmakers wrote, “help officials make the best-informed decisions when determining if products may enter the United States,” as well as prioritize “relationship building, information sharing, technical cooperation and capacity-building.”
Some of Israel’s largest exports to the US are pharmaceuticals and medical instruments, the lawmakers pointed out, “which accounted for approximately $5.3 billion in 2018,” with agricultural exports totaling “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,” the letter read.
Pointing to a number of breakthrough research initiatives and findings in Israel, including the performance of the world’s first bone implants utilizing lab-grown bones, and the development of an artificial cornea implant that may one day allow millions of people with visual impairments the ability to see, the lawmakers said: “As this valuable research continues, the presence of an FDA office in Israel will undoubtedly facilitate closer cooperation between Israel’s Ministry of Health and the FDA.”
The letter was initiated by Congressmen Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) and Joe Wilson (R-SC), and signed by Reps Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Grace Meng (D-NY), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Darren Soto (D-FL), W. Gregory Steube (R-FL), David Trone (D-MD), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Michael Waltz (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Ron Wright (R-TX), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), and Charlie Crist (D-FL).