National Consumers League

FDA official offers open ears to consumer advocates


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Recently, NCL convened a consumer roundtable with the Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein. NCL has historically convened consumer advocates to meet with – and ask questions of – the FDA Commissioners. Dr. Sharfstein opened with general remarks about his experience at the Administration, and offered some insight into how the FDA is truly a public health agency. He also remarked on many of the internal changes underway at the FDA, much of it aimed at greater transparency and access to the public. For instance, the FDA has now made itself more accessible to the new media. The agency has also established FDA Track, which provides performance data for 100 different offices. The consumer and food safety advocates were each given an opportunity to ask the Deputy Commissioner questions. Questions and answers touched on a variety of topics, including risk (in medicine and in food safety), the medical device approval process, evidence-based decision-making and the regulatory process, public outreach and involvement, recalls (OTC products), antibiotics in animal feed, the food safety bill, working with Congress, inspection and deceptive advertising, among other topics. The Deputy Commissioner was very candid and listened with open ears to what the consumer advocates had to say. NCL hopes to reconvene the Deputy Commissioner and consumer groups again in the near future for similarly fruitful discussions. Pew Charitable Trusts graciously hosted the event.  NCL also thanks the FDA and the Office of the Commissioner for their support and time.