The Food and Drug Administration is the federal agency responsible for protecting public health through ensuring the nation’s food, cosmetics, drugs, medical devices and biological products are safe and effaceable. The FDA was formed as a result of the Food and Drug Act of 1906. That act prohibited interstate transportation of adulterated food and drugs which didn’t meet the appropriate standard for strength, purity and quality. The FDA itself was founded in 1927 because the USDA Bureau of Chemistry lacked the proper jurisdiction to do the job.
The FDA is funded through the federal government. It has a staff of about 15,000 and a budget in excess of $4 billion. In addition to regulating the food and drugs supply, the FDA also regulates how tobacco products are manufactured, marketed and distributed. The agency also advances public health by making sure medical products are effective, safe, and affordable and educating the public on the medical products and foods they need to attain and maintain good health. The FDA also plays a role in counterterrorism by protecting the food supply from deliberate public health threats.
The regulatory authority of the FDA is very broad. It regulates foods, food additives, dietary supplements, infant formula and bottled water. It also regulates prescription and non-prescription drugs, vaccines, blood products, blood, products related to gene and cellular therapy, tissue and tissue products, allergenic and other biologics. Medical devices ranging from tongue depressors to heart pacemakers, prosthetics, dental devices and surgical implants are also under the prevue of the FDA. Electronic products like microwave ovens, laser products, x-ray equipment and even sunlamps are under FDA jurisdiction. So are color additives, nail polish, perfume, skin cleansers, moisturizers and veterinary products, drugs and devices.
The FDA is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. In order to do its job effectively, the FDA works in conjunction with several other federal agencies. These agencies include: Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, National Center for Toxicological Research, Center for Veterinary Medicine, Center for Tobacco Products, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Center for Devices and Radiological Health and the Office of Criminal Investigations. Robert Califf is the current Commissioner, and was preceded in his role by Steven Osttroff and Margaret Hamburg.
The headquarters of the FDA is in White Oak, Maryland. However, the agency has 223 field offices as well as 13 laboratories spread throughout the United States and began posting employees in foreign countries in 2008.