Food and drug regulators in the U.S., Europe and other developed countries are facing an increasingly difficult task. They have to make sure that the imports from 300,000 foreign facilities in 150 different countries are safe. Recent reports by the Governmental Accountability Office(GAO) report that the FDA inspected less than 11% of the manufacturing plants on its own list of high-priority sites. This presents a problem since 80% of pharmaceutical ingredients and 85% of seafood are foreign imports.
Recent scares of contaminated seafood, baby formula, pet food and blood-thinning drugs from China has the FDA scrambling for solutions. This true for the increase in counterfeit drugs, such as the popular cancer drug Avastin, penetrating the market .
A panel assembled by the Institute of Medicine recommended that the U.S., Europe, Canada and Japan create a system for sharing the inspection duties for facilities in developing countries. There apparently is currently no cooperation between the various agencies regarding inspections. This is a set-up for potential overlaps in examining the same facilities. The panel also recommended regulators in the U.S., Europe and other developed countries offer training, technology and expertise to developing nations.
With all the recent problems that come with a global economy, cooperation across borders is a must to ensure the safety of our food and medical products. Unfortunately, changes will likely be slow since most of the changes required are by governmental agencies.
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