• Conference with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Leavitt on food, drug and product safety

    September 08 2008, 09:15 - 09:15
    Location: AmCham


    AmCham France was pleased to host a conference with the U.S. Secretary (Minister) of Health and Human Services (HHS), Mike Leavitt, on Monday September 8th.  Secretary Leavitt discussed food, pharmaceutical and other product safety issues in the international context, and how consumer safety can be assured. This was a unique chance for representatives of all manufacturing companies, and especially food and pharmaceutical companies, to interact with one of the United States' most senior ministers.  
    Among other subjects, Mr. Leavitt, who leads the U.S. Import Safety Working Group, explained an initiative HHS and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are undertaking with their counterparts in the EU and Australia to jointly plan and conduct inspections of drug-manufacturing facilities. The project will initially focus on makers of active pharmaceutical ingredients. If successful, it could expand to include other types of manufacturing facilities. The novel collaboration will allow HHS/FDA to more fully take advantage of information gathered by trusted inspection and regulatory systems in other countries.  Secretary Leavitt was also be interested to hear how manufacturing companies think import safety should be approached, whether there is a difference between the U.S. and European approaches, and whether they have innovative ideas that can be applied internationally.  

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.

    HHS has over 300 programs, covering a wide spectrum of activities. Some highlights include:

    • Health and social science research
    • Preventing disease, including immunization services
    • Assuring food and drug safety
    • Medicare (health insurance for elderly and disabled Americans) and Medicaid (health insurance for low-income people)
    • Health information technology
    • Financial assistance and services for low-income families
    • Improving maternal and infant health
    • Head Start (pre-school education and services)
    • Faith-based and community initiatives
    • Preventing child abuse and domestic violence
    • Substance abuse treatment and prevention
    • Services for older Americans, including home-delivered meals
    • Comprehensive health services for Native Americans
    • Medical preparedness for emergencies, including potential terrorism.

    During his first year, he led efforts to successfully enroll tens of millions of seniors and disabled persons in the new Medicare prescription drug benefit; mobilized the nation’s pandemic preparedness; accelerated the development of health information technology standards and oversaw the medical response to Hurricane Katrina. He presided over changes in Medicaid statues to give states flexibility to provide targeted insurance coverage to more people, and worked with Congress to pass the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.  During his second year, Leavitt spearheaded the Nation’s Health Diplomacy initiative aimed at improving the health of Central Americans and bringing the countries of North and Central America closer together. He also organized a nationwide campaign to transform the Nation’s health care sector into a value-driven health care system. He is intensely focused on making health care more transparent in quality and price, and reducing the time and expense of bringing safe and effective drugs to market.

    Prior to his current service, Leavitt was head of the US Environmental Protection Agency and served three terms as Governor of Utah.