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FDA as a Separate Agency from DHHS?


A recent article in New Food Economy authored by Jessica Fu and Glenn Cohen of the Harvard Law School suggested that the FDA should be established as a separate agency such as the EPA. At issue is the potential politicization of the FDA that falls under the Department of Health and Human Services.

Cohen noted that the “FDA regulates a huge percentage of our economy and makes a huge difference to people’s lives”. There are instances of the DHHS obstructing or interfering in FDA decisions, especially in areas relating to drug approval, tobacco use and food safety. The authors suggest that if the FDA were an independent agency with its own budget, it would have the independence to conduct operations and develop policy appropriate to its mission. The authors noted “When science and politics collide, the optimal path is to delineate as transparently as possible the contribution of each”. It was the contention of the authors that in any situation when values are in conflict, an independent FDA would react with the best interest of all citizenry.

The suggestion has merit especially given blatant political interference with the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both of which are subsidiary agencies of DHHS.

CHICK-NEWS has frequently advocated for an independent food safety agency that would combine the current functions of the FDA, USDA-FSIS and other agencies with peripheral jurisdiction. This would enable the FDA either as an independent agency or a component of the DHHS to concentrate on approval, oversight of manufacture, distribution and regulation of drugs and medical devices. An independent food safety agency would parallel similar approaches in the E.U. leading to more efficient allocation of resources to research, surveillance and enforcement.