SINCE it was begun in 1907, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has often been the center of controversy. Recent scandals in the executive branch of the government have reminded us that public officials are not above either the law or the public they are supposed to serve. It is therefore appropriate that the FDA be responsive to public concerns, and be held accountable when criticism erupts, be it from consumerists, the medical profession, the drug industry, or the Congress. Still, it is also crucial that a regulatory agency not become so embroiled in defensive maneuvers that it loses its ability to serve the public properly.
During the last decade, the FDA has been accused both of overregulation and underregulation. Such a situation is not as paradoxical as it might seem. On the one hand, the FDA might be considered culpable if it fails to police drug manufacturers and allows