February 1, 2016

The Food and Drug Administration Needs to Change After 110 Years

Richard Williams

Senior Affiliated Scholar
Summary

A supercentenarian is a person who has lived passed their 110th birthday. We celebrate that for people, but it's not clear that we should celebrate it for a federal agency like the Food and Drug Administration , which turns 110 this year. It's certainly time to re-evaluate precisely what such an agency ought to be doing, not to mention what it should not be doing.

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A supercentenarian is a person who has lived passed their 110th birthday. We celebrate that for people, but it's not clear that we should celebrate it for a federal agency like the Food and Drug Administration , which turns 110 this year. 

It's certainly time to re-evaluate precisely what such an agency ought to be doing, not to mention what it should not be doing. Two things that federal agencies like the FDA should avoid in particular are scandals and poor outcomes.

Typically the scandals are what dominate the news, but what may be most damaging to the country are the poor outcomes from these agencies. Some, such as the chronically poor care at veteran's hospitals, are easy to see and document. These sorts of highly visible scandals and outcomes outrage the public and Congress – and action usually follows – but there's no parallel outrage for poor outcomes that are widely distributed and difficult to attribute.

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