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Congress Moves Bill to Speed Medical Reviews for Military

U.S. Army Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) candidate provides care to a casualty during EFMB testing at Fort Bragg, NC, October 20, 2017. (Spc. Shekinah M Frye/U.S. Army)
U.S. Army Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) candidate provides care to a casualty during EFMB testing at Fort Bragg, NC, October 20, 2017. (Spc. Shekinah M Frye/U.S. Army)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military would gain new options for speeding reviews of medical products for soldiers on the battlefield under a legislative compromise passed by Congress.

But the Food and Drug Administration would remain the only federal agency capable of approving new medical products.

The bipartisan bill fixes a measure in the defense spending bill which would have allowed the Pentagon to unilaterally clear medical products for soldiers in emergency situations. That change would have upended nearly 100 years of precedent entrusting such reviews to the FDA. The agency employs thousands of medical staff to review the safety and effectiveness of drugs and devices.

The compromise passed by the House on Wednesday and Senate on Thursday creates a way to expedite FDA reviews of products for use during military emergencies.

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