The FDA is supposed to make sure the food we eat and the medicines we take are safe, but the Government Accountability Office and the FDA's own Science Board all agree that something is not working.
More than a thousand people have left the agency in the last two decades. And Tuesday eight experts from three different agencies agree that the FDA doesn't have the people, or the money, to make sure all food and medicines are safe. They've determined that the biggest problem is outdated computers.
Dr. Garret Fitzgerald of the FDA Science Board Committee said, "The FDA is not on the superhighway. It's stuck on a rural dirt track, trying to get from place to place in a model T." And FDA Science Board Chair, Gail Cassell, added, "Lives are at risk because you don't have the appropriate checks and balances in place."
The FDA Science Board says almost all of the work is being done by hand- which may be a big reason for turnover, poor morale, and critical gaps in science. It may also cause, for example, the results of new drug trials being stacked in warehouses.
The Science Board is recommending that Congress double the FDA's budget and they call for a 50% increase in staff over the next two years.