The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has significant reach in the American economy, ranging from medicines and medical devices to items on the grocery store shelves. Since its inception in 1906, the agency has faced a variety of technical and political challenges. Looking ahead, the FDA faces many new demands that could enlarge the agency’s already expansive mandate.
New responsibilities may include the cost of medicine, consumers’ pursuit of perfection through drugs, consumer lifestyles, tobacco, and counterterrorism. As the nature of public health changes over time, it is inevitable that the FDA’s scope and responsibilities will change as well. In Inside the FDA, Fran Hawthorne explains the history of the FDA, how its processes work, and what the future may hold for this government agency.