FDA Will Get Right On It

The FDA will fix their structural problems as soon as Congress decides regulation is actually a good task for government to perform. Until then, don't count on the FDA protecting the consumer.

The Food and Drug Administration is so understaffed that, at its current pace, the agency would need at least 27 years to inspect every foreign medical device plant that exports to the United States, 13 years to check every foreign drug plant and 1,900 years to examine every foreign food plant, according to government investigators.

Computer systems at the drug agency are so inadequate that it can only guess the number of the plants, and it cannot produce a list of those that have not been inspected. The situation is particularly dire in China, which has more drug and device plants than any other foreign nation but where F.D.A. inspections are few.

[From For F.D.A., a Major Backlog Overseas - New York Times]

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The only way things will change is if there is a truly horrific public health disaster, directly caused by inaction at the FDA, yielding perfectly formed sound bites for our corporate media to spew. Otherwise, the long term goal of conservatives (Republican and Democrat alike) of shrinking the government so that it is small enough to drown in a bathtub will continue.

In the last 14 years, the drug agency has lost 1,311 employees and nearly $300 million in appropriations to inflation while Congress has passed more than 100 laws defining or expanding its regulatory responsibilities. The agency now regulates about $1 trillion worth of goods, or 25 cents of every dollar spent by consumers. The agency’s field inspection force has suffered, particularly in the area of food.

In 1973, the F.D.A. undertook 34,919 food inspections; in 2006, that number had dropped to 7,783.

As the share of imported food, drugs and devices has soared, the number of agency import inspectors has plunged, to 380 in 2006 from 531 in 2003. Although 80 percent of the nation’s drug supply is now imported, the F.D.A. last year inspected only 30 of more than 3,000 foreign drug plants. It inspected 100 of 190,000 foreign food plants.

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This page contains a single entry by swanksalot published on January 29, 2008 8:25 AM.

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