Thompson bemoans policy on drug costs and safety

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Tommy Thompson has criticized his lack of control over prescription
drug costs and federal drug safety policy while serving as secretary of Health and Human Services.
Freed from the binds of administration policy following his recent
resignation, Thompson told reporters at a press conference he
wished Congress had given him the power to negotiate with drug manufacturers to secure lower prices for Medicare beneficiaries.
The White House and Republicans in Congress have long been staunch opponents of giving government that power because it would likely lead to price controls, cutting revenues needed for pharmaceutical research.
Thompson also said he favored the creation of an independent office to analyze the safety of prescription drug products after they are
approved for sale to the public.
Critics of the FDA have long calledfor such an office.
After initial opposition to the idea, members of the Bush administration and managers at the FDA have been noncommittal in recent weeks, a New York Times report said.
Medicare and Medicaid administrator Mark McClellan, brother to
White House press secretary Scott McClellan, was widely expected
to be Bush's choice to succeed Thompson.
His resignation made Thompson the eighth member of President
Bush's cabinet to give up their postsince the Nov. 2 election.
Thompson said he would remain in office until Feb. 4 or until the Senate confirmed a successor.

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