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Advisers Say F.D.A.s Flaws Put Lives at Risk
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times

New York Times, December 1, 2007
Posted: December 10th, 2007

The nations food supply is at risk, its drugs are potentially dangerous and its citizens lives are at stake because the Food and Drug Administration is desperately short of money and poorly organized, according to an alarming report by agency advisers. The report ... is the latest ... in a string of outside assessments that have concluded that the F.D.A. is poorly equipped to protect the public health. The report concludes that over the last two decades, the agencys public health responsibilities have soared while its appropriations have barely budged. The result is that the F.D.A. is falling farther and farther behind in carrying out its responsibilities and understanding the science it needs to do its many jobs. F.D.A.s inability to keep up with scientific advances means that American lives are at risk, the report stated. Barbara J. McNeil, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and one of the reports authors, said she was stunned at the agencys sorry state. This was the first time that a group of people got together and really looked at all the areas that the F.D.A. has to cover, Dr. McNeil said. We were shocked at the scope of its responsibilities, we were shocked at how little its resources have increased, and we were surprised at the conditions those in the F.D.A. had to work under. "Reports of product dangers are not rapidly compared and analyzed, inspectors reports are ... slow to work their way through the compliance system, and the system for managing imported products cannot communicate with customs and other government systems, the report stated. The report concluded that the F.D.A.s ability to provide its basic food system inspection, enforcement and rule-making functions is severely eroded, as is its ability to respond to outbreaks in a timely manner.

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