How and why was Food and Drug Administration created in the USA?

Among numerous American agencies with three-letter names since the cold war days, the most well known are, of course, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Over the last years after scandals about total chasing the citizens and privacy violation in the Internet, another abbreviation became known, which National Security Agency (NSA) is.

However, for those who are interested in health and healthy lifestyle more than in spy and conspiracy theories, activity of other federal agency of the USA is more interesting.

The Institution called FDA (Food and Drug Administration) counts about 15 000 of employers throughout the country and responsible for quality control over nutrition products and medicaments. At that so effectively that its activity is followed by not the USA only but also in other countries of the world.

american fda creation

The Jungle Book

The story of FDA creation is as far dramatic, as comic. A scandal about sales of foul and contaminated meat at the slaughterhouses in Meat Packing District district in Hudson area back in 1906 led to the agency`s opening.

For the first half of 1906, famous back then American writer and publicist Upton Sinclair published a novel titled as The Jungles, dedicated to terrible conditions of work at the slaughterhouses in Chicago.

Among other things, the lead character flies fallen tubercular cattle, out of which meat sausages and canned goods are produced.  Interestingly enough that Sinclair was writing his book in order to attract attention to the conditions of work of the employers in Chicago. However, people got more scared of a perspective to get poisoned with bad meat.

The success of the novel and epic scandal about foul meat in New York led to Committee to be formed for investigation of the situation at the slaughterhouses. Moreover, on June 30, 1906 the president Theodore Roosevelt published Pure Food and Drug Act, regulating rotation of products and medicine.

In accordance with this law, FDA was created. Next year Meat inspection act was adopted – an act about responsibility for rotten meat and necessity of checks.  

Thus, one scandal caused a creation of a whole product quality control structure more than 100 years ago.

Do not forget about cocaine

One of the main documents of the new organization was a decision about a label of each product or medicine cannot be false or confusing in any way. Moreover, 11 dangerous ingredients should be pointed on the label among which alcohol, heroin and cocaine.

It is no wonder, because back in the year, 1902 cocaine officially was the part of famous Coca-Cola, and in medical practice, this drug was applied as analgesic until 1911.

Later some documents set standards for some specific products, such as apples and butter, let alone for canned goods.

In the years 1930`s, journalists and consumer advocates began publishing lists of harmful products, which were not regulated by the acting law about FDA. Among them were: lash mascara, causing blindness, ineffectual tuberculosis remedy, let alone Radithor medicament, containing radioactive elements.

Amendments acts about FDA could not go through the USA Congress for 5 years, but the decision was accepted and very fast in the year 1938, after more than 100 Americans died from untested medicine called sulfanilamide elixir, containing toxic solvent.

The president Roosvelt signed the law, expanding the rights of FDA on checking similar medicaments. However, not Theodore, but Franklin Delano. With this document FDA was to check all the new medicaments let alone strike on false information about therapeutic effects in labeling of medicine.

FDA against drugs and bioterrorism  

Line of FDA responsibility was constantly becoming broader and already went far behind the boundaries of «tracking the product and medicaments quality», which is mentioned in the name of the organization.

Amongst others, in 1966 package of products hit FDA`s sphere of interests, in 1976 – treatment tools regulation, in 1987 – ethical advertising, which are sold on prescription. FDA was given standby authorities by Drug Trafficking Act adopted in 1988.

Largely because of this law, an interesting collision appeared in the USA with marijuana. As of April 2017, using marijuana medicinally is legalized in 29 states and Columbia district. Nevertheless, at the federal level it is still in the list of forbidden substances. Cannabis takes place in this list since 1970 and it is impossible so far to take it out of the register. In 2016, FDA declined the ordinary requests to change classifications of marijuana.  

This decision is based on FDA recommendations “not to consider marijuana a safe and effective medicine”.

In the year 2002, soon after the attack of terrorists on September 11 2001, a Bioterrorism Act entered into force. Particularly, it says about safety and integrity of food and beverage and medicaments, let alone new handling rules of coping with dangerous biological agents and toxins.

Not medicine only

In general, in accordance with the USA laws, FDA representatives control safety of foods, tobacco products, food supplements, medicine (both prescribed and non-prescribed), vaccines, medical devices and veterinary preparations.

In 2004 FDA went all out on using animals as meds. The first animal-meds were some fly larvaes, which are used for debridement. Such an unusual method was begun applying because of some bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant. The second animal, which in the USA was allowed to be used as meds was more usual medicinal leech.

It is critical to underscore that on its tod activity of FDA stimulates research studies.

Food and medicaments producers have got to get approval of FDA, and for that, studies and expertise are required.

Major hitches

Many Americans complain that it takes for FDA specialists too long to check the meds before approval. Particularly, there are strict norms, which forbade examination of investigation drugs in humans before multistage successful tests with usage of laboratory animals to be done.

In particular, in the end of the last century numerous organizations of people with HIV took up the position that, because of FDA delays in the США thousands of people were dying yearly. Besides, it was about those medicines, which were allowed, for example, in Canada and Western European countries.

In answer to critic, FDA officials released new rules in order to make it faster with some meds approval. In case of life threatening, such meds can be applied to people during tests.  

About the author: Melisa Marzett is a champion of human rights who is currently working for trying to do her best with her writing. Writing is something she does best of all, is something she loves, which is why it comes out to be so good. She gets inspired wherever she goes. She enjoys every single day.

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