Latest release on the FDA website (truncated by me, with the full verbiage at www.fda.gov).
FDA’s Accomplishments in 2005
The FDA made progress in implementing its Critical Path initiative, a pioneering project that seeks to apply the best available science to the medical product development process by creating novel tools — such as proven biomarkers and simulation models — for assessment of the safety and effectiveness of drugs and medical devices.
As part of this initiative, the FDA conducted a workshop with The Drug Information Association and The Biotechnology Industry Association to discuss ways of routinely using new imaging techniques in drug development. The agency also created a non-regulatory pathway for discussions with sponsors about certain issues involving submission and use of pharmacogenomic data; concluded an agreement with BG Medicine, a biotechnology research company, to collaborate on discovering signs of liver toxicity in the initial stages of drug development; and published a final guidance on the development of pharmacogenomic data that could help predict the optimum treatment for each individual patient.
Patient and Consumer Protection
The FDA launched several initiatives to reform and make more transparent the system that protects patients from adverse events associated with marketed drugs. The steps taken in 2005 included a contract with the Institute of Medicine to study the effectiveness of the U.S. drug safety system; the appointment of 31 top drug experts to a novel Drug Safety Oversight Board that oversees the management of important drug safety issues; and four contracts to improve FDA’s access to databases that can help identify rare side effects of medicines. Other examples of patient and consumer safety-oriented projects included FDA’s investigation of the mechanical strength of vertebrae following injections with bone glue, the most common treatment for compression fractures that affect a quarter of all women over the age of 50; and studies of the toxicity of acrylamide in food.
FDA made important contributions to the nation’s preparedness for the potential influenza pandemic. The agency provided guidance to speed vaccine manufacturing and availability; sought to increase the number of vaccine manufacturers and their capacity; and addressed such needs as the creation of pandemic strain libraries, for use in vaccine manufacturing and development, and improved assays and testing.
To help protect the nation against bioterrorism, Congress has charged the FDA with helping to secure the food supply and encouraging the development and availability of counter-terrorism medical products. As part of this program, the FDA last year strengthened the protection against the effects of inhaled anthrax by approving several generic versions of Cipro (ciprofloxacin). The agency also approved ThyroShield (potassium iodide oral solution) for use in radiation emergencies and developed draft guidance on studies of products to eliminate inhaled, absorbed, or ingested radioactive contaminants.
CFSAN, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security, announced a new collaborative effort with states and private industry to protect the nation’s food supply from terrorist threats through the Strategic Partnership Program Agroterrorism Initiative. CFSAN has spearheaded this effort to identify sector-wide vulnerabilities, mitigation strategies and research needs to protect our nation’s food supply.
Better Manufacturing Practices
Another major FDA priority in 2005 was to ensure the proper manufacture of medications by strengthening compliance with the recently overhauled pharmaceutical standards Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). An example of this emphasis has been the agency’s close cooperation with the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in ensuring the correction of sterility failures that had caused the MHRA to suspend the license for Chiron, a major producer of influenza vaccine for the United States.
Both FDA and MHRA provided extensive input on Chiron’s remediation plan for the firm’s facility in Liverpool, and repeatedly inspected its implementation. The joint efforts resulted in the release and delivery of the Fluvirin influenza vaccine to the United States for the 2005-2006 influenza season.
To help protect patients from medication errors, to better inform practitioners about the information they need to use products most safely, and to better enable the use of electronic labeling of drug and biologic products, FDA finalized its new rules governing the format and content of the required information (labeling) that must accompany drug and biologic products when they are marketed in the United States.
Note to Senator Grassley: Please feel free to send a thank-you note to the hard working men and women of the FDA.