FDA head leery of tobacco oversight

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 22, 2007

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The Food and Drug Administration is not the right agency for the job of regulating tobacco products, FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, MD, said in written testimony to a House subcommittee Oct. 3.

While noting that he was highly supportive of the intent behind the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act being discussed in the House, Dr. von Eschenbach said the FDA's regulatory responsibility under the measure could undermine its public health role.

"Most fundamentally, we are concerned that FDA 'approval' of tobacco products may become confused with the agency's regulation of therapeutic products such as drugs and devices," Dr. von Eschenbach said.

A previous FDA administrator, David Kessler, MD, fought for the right to regulate tobacco but was prevented by a 2000 Supreme Court decision that determined Congress had not provided the agency that authority.

The AMA supports the measure currently under consideration.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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