According to a news source, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) personnel have experienced significant delays in obtaining visas from China to staff food and drug inspection offices in that country. One staff member reportedly withdrew his application after waiting nine months for approval to work in China. The delays are seen as a setback for the agency’s efforts to improve supply chain safety; FDA planned to use $10 million in additional appropriations to increase its food inspection staff from two to nine and its drug inspection unit from just one to 11. FDA currently has three offices in the country—in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou—staffed with eight U.S. civil servants and five Chinese nationals. An FDA spokesperson said, “We believe that timely issuance of visas for FDA staff will be beneficial to both the U.S. and China, and that it’s in China’s best interest to issue these visas and move on to our next stage of collaboration.” See Pharmalot, August 20, 2013.
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Visa delays affecting FDA inspections in China
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