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Food and Drug Administration

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA) is a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments. The FDA is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the control and supervision of food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs (medications), vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, medical devices, electromagnetic radiation emitting devices (ERED), cosmetics, animal foods & feed and veterinary products. As of 2017, 3/4th of the FDA budget (approximately $700 million) is paid by people who consume pharmaceutical products, due to the Prescription Drug User Fee Act.

The FDA is led by the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Commissioner reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Scott Gottlieb, M.D. is the current commissioner, who took over in May 2017.

The Office of Regulatory Affairs is considered the "eyes and ears" of the agency, conducting the vast majority of the FDA's work in the field. Consumer Safety Officers, more commonly called Investigators, are the individuals who inspect production and warehousing facilities, investigate complaints, illnesses, or outbreaks, and review documentation in the case of medical devices, drugs, biological products, and other items where it may be difficult to conduct a physical examination or take a physical sample of the product.

Most federal laws concerning the FDA are part of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, (first passed in 1938 and extensively amended since) and are codified in Title 21, Chapter 9 of the United States Code. Other significant laws enforced by the FDA include the Public Health Service Act, parts of the Controlled Substances Act, the Federal Anti-Tampering Act, as well as many others. In many cases these responsibilities are shared with other federal agencies.

In June 2018, the FDA released a statement regarding new guidelines to help food and drug manufacturers "implement protections against potential attacks on the U.S. food supply". One of the new guidelines includes the Intentional Adulteration (IA) rule, which requires strategies and procedures by the food industry to reduce the risk of compromise in facilities and processes that are significantly vulnerable.

Some very rare limited exceptions to this multi-step process involving animal testing and controlled clinical trials can be granted out of compassionate use protocols, as was the case during the 2015 Ebola epidemic with the use, by prescription and authorization, of ZMapp and other experimental treatments, and for new drugs that can be used to treat debilitating and/or very rare conditions for which no existing remedies or drugs are satisfactory, or where there has not been an advance in a long period of time. The studies are progressively longer, gradually adding more individuals as they progress from stage I to stage III, normally over a period of years, and normally involve drug companies, the government and its laboratories, and often medical schools and hospitals and clinics. However, any exceptions to the aforementioned process are subject to strict review and scrutiny and conditions, and are only given if a substantial amount of research and at least some preliminary human testing has shown that they are believed to be somewhat safe and possibly effective.

Furthermore, it was discovered that several manufacturers had falsified data submitted in seeking FDA authorization to market certain generic drugs. Vitarine Pharmaceuticals of New York, which sought approval of a generic version of the drug Dyazide, a medication for high blood pressure, submitted Dyazide, rather than its generic version, for the FDA tests. In April 1989, the FDA investigated 11 manufacturers for irregularities; and later brought that number up to 13. Dozens of drugs were eventually suspended or recalled by manufacturers. In the early 1990s, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed securities fraud charges against the Bolar Pharmaceutical Company, a major generic manufacturer based in Long Island, New York.

In June 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed into law the Pure Food and Drug Act, also known as the "Wiley Act" after its chief advocate. The Act prohibited, under penalty of seizure of goods, the interstate transport of food that had been "adulterated". The act applied similar penalties to the interstate marketing of "adulterated" drugs, in which the "standard of strength, quality, or purity" of the active ingredient was not either stated clearly on the label or listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia or the National Formulary.