FDA Plans to Monitor Foods and Drugs Imports

New FDA policy to monitor imports

The commissioner of the Foods and Drugs Administration, Dr. Margaret Hamburg has spoken about the overwhelming amount of imports of foods and drugs within the country. She has now proposed a new policy to enabler the FDA to regulate the inflow of imported foods and drugs. The new framework will provide a complete strategy to monitor the import of various foods and drugs within the USA.

Increase in the imports

Ten years ago, the FDA monitored six million shipments per year that were imported in the country’s three hundred ports. However, this year the number of shipments is estimated to grow to twenty-four million. Approximately, two-thirds of the fruits and vegetables consumed and three-quarters of the seafood enjoyed by American citizens is imported from other parts of the world. Drugs and medical instruments figures are more daunting, with over eighty percent of the active raw materials required to manufacture the drugs are imported. Moreover, these are imported from China and India, where the FDA inspection is not prevalent. All these factors are posing a problem in the way the FDA is able to monitor the country’s imports.

FDA lacks adequate personnel

The present rate at which the inspections occur and the number of available inspectors will require 27 years to check medical devices, 13 years to inspect the drug manufacturing plants, and 1900 years to verify each foreign food plant. Several OTC drugs and vitamin supplements are manufactured with Chinese plants that have not been inspected by the FDA. The problem is further escalated because the FDA does not have adequate inspectors who can even monitor each American port. A small amount of the imported items are inspected and even a smaller number are inspected.

FDA provided with new powers

President Obama provided FDA with additional powers early this year along with additional responsibilities. The FDA has been directed to complete 600 inspections of foreign food facilities within one year and increase the number thereafter. On the other hand, the budget has been proposed to be cut back. This makes it almost impossible for the FDA to meet its sixth year target of inspecting 19200 units.

Global coalitions are proposed

In view of the lack of the funds and the personnel, Dr. Hamburg has proposed to form foreign coalition of regulators that will build and strengthen the safety of the products all over the world. A global data information system has also been planned to enable the regulators to communicate. The FDA has received some agreements for cooperation in its initiative. However, many efforts are still needed to achieve the ultimate target.