Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is an agency of the United States federal government responsible for the protection and promotion of public health. The FDA does this through the regulation and supervision of numerous industries, including tobacco, food processing, cosmetics, medications and vaccines, dietary supplements, and over-the-counter drugs, among others. The Commissioner of Food and Drugs heads the FDA, who reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The FDA was created in 1906 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Pure Food and Drug Act. This legislation was partly inspired by the description of horrific conditions in Chicago meat packing plants in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. In 1938, the FDA was charged as the enforcement agency of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. This law mandated that the FDA review all new drugs before they are released to the U.S. market.
The FDA is responsible for regulating more than $1 trillion worth of consumer goods annually, as much as one-quarter of all expenditures. The FDA is perhaps most famous for its regulation of the tobacco industry, and is responsible for the creation of large warning labels on cigarettes and cigarette advertisements. Critics of the FDA have charged that the agency requires greater regulatory powers in order to ensure the safety of all of the drugs on the American market.