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March 6, 1996

Congress Moving to Improve FDA Performance

JAMA. 1996;275(9):670-672. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530330014004

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AFTER MONTHS of talk about shortcomings in the way the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) goes about its job, Congress is finally moving toward developing comprehensive legislation that will, it is hoped, improve the agency's performance.

Sen Nancy Kassebaum (R, Kan), chair of the Labor and Human Resources Committee, is holding congressional hearings on legislation she introduced in December. On the House side, Thomas J. Bliley, Jr (R, Va), chair of the Commerce Committee, has promised that he too will hold hearings on legislation that he proposes to introduce. Bliley has been a severe critic of the agency.

Although not all will agree that Kassebaum's bill is the perfect solution to resolving the problems that many say plague the FDA and regardless of the outcome, her bill has substantially moved the debate about the agency's performance from charges and countercharges to a serious effort at reform.

The US Congress has