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Food and Drug Administration - History, How The Fda Approves New Drugs, Organization, Azt: An Agent Of Change For The Fda

products medical product safety

One of the oldest U.S. CONSUMER PROTECTION agencies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protects the public from unsafe foods, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, and other potential hazards. As part of the DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, the FDA annually regulates over $1 trillion worth of products, which account for one-fourth of all consumer spending in the United States. It also protects the rights and safety of patients in clinical trials of new medical products, monitors the promotional activities of drug and device manufacturers, regulates the labeling of all packaged foods, and monitors the safety of the nation's blood supply.

To ensure compliance with its regulations, the FDA employs over 1,000 investigators and inspectors who visit over 15,000 food-processing, drug-manufacturing, and other facilities each year. If it finds violations of law, the FDA first encourages an offending company to voluntarily correct the problem or to recall a faulty product from the market. If the firm does not voluntarily comply with the law, the FDA may take it to court and seek criminal penalties against it. The FDA may also seize faulty products, order product recalls, seek injunctive relief, impose fines, and take other types of enforcement action. Each year, the FDA declares about 3,000 products and 30,000 import shipments to be unacceptable in various ways.

The FDA employs over 2,000 scientists—including 900 chemists and 300 microbiologists—who provide the SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE to back up its regulatory and inspection duties. These scientists analyze samples of products for purity and review test results of new products. The FDA itself does not do research for a new medical product. Instead, it evaluates the results of studies undertaken by the manufacturer.

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