Food and drug safety advocates and Georgia product liability attorneys have long called for a division of the Food and Drug Administration into separate agencies, each in charge of food and drug safety.These calls have gotten louder since the salmonella poisoning scandal earlier this year that’s been linked to contaminated peanut butter. It’s obvious that the agency is over burdened, over stressed, and simply unable to handle the responsibilities of making sure that the food and medical products that Americans consume are completely safe to use.
Hopes for a split of the agency into separate divisions for food and drug safety received impetus last week when President Barack Obama named two health experts to top positions at the FDA. The President has tipped former New York City Health Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to be the agency’s new commissioner. Joshua Sharfstein, a pediatrician has been picked by the President to be deputy commissioner. Sharfstein has long been a strong critic of health issues, including the safety of children’s cold medicines. FDA insiders believe that the President’s choice of 2 respected health experts points to his being in favor of dividing the agency into two. The President has also appointed an advisory group which will be re-evaluating archaic American food safety laws, many of which are several decades old.
The FDA has traditionally focused on drug safety as its primary responsibility, and critics have complained that the issue of food safety comes up at the agency only when there is a crisis like the recent salmonella epidemic. It has been apparent even to a casual observer that the FDA has too many responsibilities and too few resources. The drug industry is reportedly in favor of a split agency because it would lead to quicker drug approvals. Besides, having a single drug safety agency will mean better oversight over drug approvals, and more stringent following of approval processes.
There is no doubt that the FDA in its present state is chained by antiquated laws that compromise the state of our citizens’ health. As a commentator puts it, it makes little sense that the agency responsible for inspecting peanut butter plants is also entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring the quality of super sophisticated medical devices costing thousands of dollars. The splitting up of the FDA into two will result in enhanced food and drug security, making Americans safer. It’s an idea whose time has come, and as attorneys who constantly represent victims in food and pharmaceutical drug-related product liability lawsuits, we hope that the new administration will act to implement such a division.