Shortages in money and people compromising things at the FDA - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ben Watson

Shortages in money and people compromising things at the FDA

The government accountability office, the congressional research service, and the FDA's own science board all agree that the FDA is at a breaking point and safety is falling through the cracks.    

Eight experts from three different agencies agree that the FDA doesn't have the people, the money, or the expertise to make sure food and medicines are safe.

Inspectors describe chaos, turnover, bad morale, critical gaps in science, and drug trial results stacked in warehouses.

Reports of problem drugs are piling up and are reviewed by hand.

"Lives are at risk because you don't have the appropriate checks and balances in place," FDA Science Board Committee Chair Gail Cassell said.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenback disagrees.

"It's not that it's bad, Mr. Chairman, it's that it's at a level of excellence that needs to continue to improve and expand," von Eschenback said.

Add to that the fact that plants that make pacemakers, stents, and catheters are years overdue for inspections.

Overseas, some plants haven't been checked in almost 30 years.

FDA's commissioner said he will be back to show Congress how his agency is dealing with these problems. But this is not the first set of reports critical of the FDA.

Last fall, the agency released a new food safety plan to address some of these issues. The computers are set to be updated within the next two years.

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