The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Tuesday said he has commissioned an independent review of the agency’s food and tobacco programs following months of criticism over its handling of the baby formula shortage and e-cigarette reviews, according to AP.
The announcement comes as FDA Commissioner Robert Califf attempts to push past several controversies that have dominated his second stint running the agency, including his issuing of a marketing denial order (MDO) to e-cigarette maker Juul Labs and later having to rescind that order and placing Juul’s premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) back under review.
“Fundamental questions about the structure, function, funding and leadership need to be addressed” in the agency’s programs, Califf said in a statement. The agency’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) is facing challenges navigating policy and enforcement issues from “an increasing number of novel products that could potentially have significant consequences for public health … CTP will continue its important work during the evaluation, including review pending applications and take enforcement actions as needed.”
Califf said the non-profit Reagan-Udall Foundation — a non-governmental research group created by Congress to support FDA’s work — would convene experts to deliver evaluations within 60 business days of both the food and tobacco operations.
“It may take some time to implement any recommended changes, but I am committed to addressing them and communicating them to the public in a timely manner,” Califf stated. “It is my belief that this effort will continue strengthening the FDA and better position the agency to deal with the many immediate public health issues we are facing, while preparing for the many scientific challenges and fascinating opportunities of the future.”