By Steve Usdin
Contributing Editor

WASHINGTON - Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of the Finance Committee, last week vowed to help FDA win budget boosts. He blamed the agency's funding woes in part on administrations that have proposed unpopular user fee programs instead of funding increases.

"Let's face it, the FDA is underfunded. For many years the budget has been a sham," Hatch told a meeting of the Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI). "We can no longer rely on user fee budgets which look good on paper, but which cannot be enacted because of political realities."

Hatch said he will try to direct to the agency some of the $3 billion that the federal government will receive as a result of state government settlements with the tobacco industry.