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HHS, FDA open office in Costa Rica to monitor import safety

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WASHINGTON Taking the next step in the President’s Action Plan on Import Safety, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt joined Admiral Joxel Garcia, assistant secretary for Health and HHS, and Andrew von Eschenbach, Food and Drug Admninistration commissioner, in Costa Rica on Wednesday to mark the opening of an HHS/FDA office to serve Latin America.

“The countries of Central America, along with Panama and the Dominican Republic, create the third-largest U.S. export market in Latin America, and, every year, the United States imports millions of dollars in goods from these important trade partners,” Leavitt said. “An HHS/FDA presence in the region will improve collaboration, strengthen our partnership and hasten the flow of quality goods to our markets.”

The office in Costa Rica is the first in a series in the region, which will eventually include an HHS/FDA presence in South America and Mexico later in 2009.

The ceremony in Costa Rica follows the opening of an HHS/FDA office in Brussels, Belgium to spearhead regulatory collaboration on food, drugs and medical devices with the European Commission; the introduction of three HHS/FDA offices in China—in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou; and the announcement the department will open HHS/FDA offices in two cities in India.  HHS/FDA is also pursuing options to open a location in the Middle East.          

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