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Compliance In Focus
Posted by Shawn Kennedy on Thu, May 15, 2014

Pure Food and Drug Act – 1906

You may be familiar with IMARC Research’s History of Clinical Research (HCR).  We recentlyPure Food and Drug Act – 1906 released an eBook about it that briefly describes all of the images that currently make up the timeline.  If you have visited our office, you may have also been given a guided tour of one of our most renowned resources.  Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback we have received, we will be highlighting each time point with a series of blogs that we plan to release over the course of the 2014 calendar year.

You may be surprised to learn that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the FDA as you commonly know it) once carried a different moniker.  Prior to officially becoming the FDA in 1930, it was first known as the Division of Chemistry from 1862-1901, then as the Bureau of Chemistry from 1901-1927, and as the Food, Drug, and Insecticide Administration for three short years from 1927-1930.

Despite the difference in names, the so-called “modern era” of the FDA can be traced back to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.  It was then that President Theodore Roosevelt signed it into law.  “The Act,” as it became known, allowed the FDA’s modern regulatory function to begin, and provided new, basic elements of protection for the U.S. consumer.  Specifically, the act prohibited interstate transportation of unlawful food and drugs and regulated that products could not be sold other than as stated on their labeling.  The act was also called the “Wiley Act,” after Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, who was the Chief Chemist of the agency at the time the act was signed.

It may seem incomprehensible now, but at the time there were no regulations pertaining to safety or effectiveness included in this act.  What the act did do was allow a regulatory body to enforce the first federal law pertaining to foods and drugs.  The law itself specifically mentioned the U.S. Pharmacopeia and National Formulary as the authorities for drugs, but was actually more concerned with food at the time because it was considered the greater public health risk.  Once passed, those who unlawfully transported food and/or drugs across state lines could be prosecuted or have their products seized.

Today the FDA regulates more than $1 trillion worth of goods ranging from drugs and medical devices to cosmetics and tobacco products. 

The associated image above depicts pills with the inscription FDA, meant to symbolize a major component of what FDA regulates.

Check back soon for additional blogs in the series on important time points in the history of FDA regulations as we continue to release individual blogs about The History of Clinical Research: A Timeline.

Image Credit: Nicolette Capuano

The History of Clinical Research

Topics: History of Clinical Research Timeline, Pure Food and Drug Act – 1906, FDA


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