As I see it
An important driving force in these activities will be the Democrats' need to show political effectiveness ahead of the 2008 elections. This will squeeze agencies like the FDA, which will be trying harder than ever not to be caught in volatile clashes.
An early sign of the new atmosphere might be seen in the prediction from the conservative Manhattan Institute's Paul Howard that the untimely demise of Pfizer's torcetrapib will mute Congressional plans to institute onerous new safety regulations when the PDUFA is reauthorized.
Thanks to Pfizer's woes, he wrote, Congress has a bird's-eye view of how difficult and expensive it is to develop new medicines, and why better science is what is really in the public's best interest.
While skirmishing on Medicare drug pricing will be vigorous during the first 100 legislative hours, for the remainder of the 110th Congress, expect less heat as the Democrats pick their way warily through the Administration's vulnerabilities.
Among these is the Bush penchant for secrecy, which House Government Reform chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has targeted for special attention by a newly created subcommittee. The FDA has a dismal record in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests.
Dickinson is editor of Dickinson's FDA Webview (fdaweb.com)