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Letter to the Editor: FDA Needs no More Responsibilities

By JAMES MARTIN
Arlington, Va.

Editor:

While some believe that giving the FDA regulatory authority over tobacco is long overdue, it could have a deadly impact on the Food and Drug Administration, who, based on its recent performance, can't manage what its got to do now.

This bill, Senate 625, could have a deadly impact on the Food and Drug Administration, who, based on its recent performance, isn't capable of managing its current responsibilities. Despite a clear mandate and a $2 billion budget, the FDA has proven itself unable to avoid or correct in a timely fashion nationwide outbreaks of ecoli contamination of lettuce and spinach; chemical poisoning of pet food; and deaths due to dangerous drugs previously approved by this very same agency.

The FDA's mandate calls for it to ensure the safety of the nation's entire food supply, as well as 11,000 drugs in the marketplace.The agency is overwhelmed and is buckling under the strain. The FDA told Congress they need more funding, more personnel and more authority to fulfill the currently defined mission.

Dr. David Kessler, who led the agency from 1990-1997, testified, "Simply put, our food safety system in this country is broken. We have no structure for preventing food borne illnesses."

With the FDA in such obvious crisis, we don't believe it is in the best interest of seniors to promote legislation that would further burden the agency with regulatory responsibility for the massive tobacco industry. Congress should leave the FDA charter as is and find a way to make the FDA an effective guarantor of food and drug safety.





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