June 01, 2006


 Still going a hundred years later

FDA celebrates centennial

Posted May 15, 2006

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Food and Drug Administration, which has the distinct honor of being the nation's oldest consumer protection office.

A formal ceremony in Washington, D.C., is planned for June 30, and commemorative events are scheduled throughout the year in Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago, and elsewhere. For more information about the FDA centennial, visit www.fda.gov/centennial.

The FDA has provided Americans with increasingly comprehensive, science-based protections to ensure the highest quality of products essential for health and survival.

Today, these products represent almost 25 percent of all consumer spending and include 80 percent of the national food supply and all human drugs, vaccines, medical devices, tissues for transplantation, equipment that emits radiation, cosmetics, and animal drugs and food.

"One hundred years of success is worthy of celebration," said FDA's acting commissioner, Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D. "In the FDA's second century, we will build on a foundation success to create a science-led regulatory agency dedicated to improving and enhancing health. Our second century will be based on new opportunities, but grounded in even-greater responsibility."

The FDA traces its origins to June 1906 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Pure Food and Drugs Act and entrusted the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Chemistry with implementing the law. Eventually, the bureau became the FDA.

Much of the FDA's history involves veterinary medicine. Dr. Henry Moskey became the first veterinarian to work for the agency when he was hired in 1927 to evaluate vitamins and minerals in light of their alleged nutritional and treatment uses.

When the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was enacted in 1938, pharmaceutical companies were required for the first time to provide proof of product safety before distributing new drugs, including those used for animals.

In 1953, the FDA was organized into five bureaus, including a Bureau of Medicine with a Veterinary Medical Branch, of which Dr. John Collins was the first chief. The branch's primary function was to determine the safety of animal drugs, both for animals and for consumers of food from treated animals.

Six years later, the Veterinary Medical Branch evolved into a division headed by Dr. Charles G. Durbin. Incidentally, the Food Additive Amendments expanded the government's regulatory authority over food additives and drug residues in animal-derived foods.

In September 1965, recognizing the importance of animal health to the welfare of the country, the secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare—the forerunner to the Department of Health and Human Services—established the Bureau of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. M.R. Clarkson was the bureau's first director; he had been AVMA president in 1964-1965 and was later executive vice president.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was amended in 1968 to include provisions specifically addressing animal drugs. The amendments were meant to ensure that animal drugs are safe and effective for their intended uses and do not result in unsafe residues in foods.

By 1976, the burden of increased responsibility and an ever-growing workload necessitated another major reorganization of the Bureau of Veterinary Medicine. Agency activities were separated into four principal areas: preclearance review of applications and petitions for drugs and feed additives, postmarketing surveillance and compliance activities, research, and administration.

The BVM became the Center for Veterinary Medicine in 1984. That same year, the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee was established. The VMAC advises the FDA commissioner in areas relating to animal drugs, feeds, feed additives, and devices for animal use.

In 1994, Dr. Stephen F. Sundlof became the CVM director—a position he holds today. That year, the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act became law, allowing veterinarians to prescribe extralabel uses of certain approved animal drugs and approved human drugs for animals under certain conditions.

Later, between 1996 and 2004, Congress passed three pieces of legislation also critically important to animal health. The Animal Drug Availability Act of 1996 improved the process for approving and using animal drugs. The Animal Drug User Fee Act of 2003 authorized the FDA to collect fees for certain animal drug applications, and for the establishments, products, and sponsors associated with these and previously approved animal drug applications, in support of the review of animal drugs.

Then in 2004, President Bush signed the Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act, making more medications legally available to veterinarians and animal owners to treat minor animal species and uncommon diseases in the major animal species.

Today, one of the CVM's highest priorities is ensuring the safety of the food supply.