Trump's federal hiring freeze could fuel FDA staff shortages, slow approval process

President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order to freeze all federal hiring. The order could create a lag in the Food and Drug Administration's approval processes as the agency is short almost 1,000 employees, reports Regulatory Focus.

While the hiring freeze bars any federal agencies for filling current open positions, it does allow the "head of any executive department or agency may exempt from the hiring freeze any positions that it deems necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities." It is unclear right now whether this exception applies to the FDA, according to the report.

The FDA's Office of Generic Drugs is expecting more than 1,500 abbreviated new drug applications, said former FDA official Bob Pollock in a blog post Wednesday. If the freeze applies to the FDA, the timely approval of these new drugs could be affected, according to the report.

"While we are still reviewing the administration's executive order, patients deserve the best and brightest minds to be able to review the medicines they need," a spokesman from the industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America told Regulatory Focus. "The [FDA] is the gold standard, and a stable and sustainable workforce is crucial to [the] agency's ability to keep pace with scientific advances in biopharmaceutical drug development, while ensuring safe and effective medicines reach patients in a timely manner."

Along with the hiring freeze, the Trump administration also told federal agencies not to publish any new regulations, rulemakings or new guidance documents, according to the report.

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