Your FDA ( Part One of Two): 1800’s – 1940’s

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The Food and Drug Administration at FDA.com – see recent changes.  This is the history of the FDA, at one point the Social Security Administration was included – follow the dates, and see how government became involved. 

Several interesting facts concerning the recent contamination of the injection manufactured at a facility unfit, according to the laws of the FDA.  When the polio vaccine was contaminated, and the shape the FDA was in during the HIV outbreak when 1,000 jobs were cut.  From the beginning to 2007.  Any changes can be found at the web site FDA.com

Changes 1800’s to 2007
The health and welfare of the people of the United States of America has been part of government. Men wearing suits, hats, like ordinary men of the, during 1860, yet covered during the day by a white coat, and seated at long tables with test tubes in front of them.  These men resembled the old fashion assembly lines.

The United States Food and Drug Administration began with these few men, a small group of civil servants no more than 100. It was the 1860s when these people focused on concerns for farmers and fertilizers. The beginning of what we know today as the FDA followed in 1883 when scientists, known as civil servants took exams and filled the position, they were never fired – their job was secured by the 1882 Civil Service Reform Act  – a scientifically based ground of men hired be the USDA.  .  During this time, scientists were hired by the USDA – when a recruiter would search colleges and Land Grant Colleges. It was different during this time because they never faced a partisan government in Washington D.C. Like State jobs or federal, no one feared a political shut out.

The first man to work concentrated on water in every city, town and village, testing for outbreaks where disease lingered and grew in the water systems.  Eventually these men would be known as the Institute of Infectious Diseases.  Need would arise in 1901 when children were dying in the State of Missouri from bacteria in their water supply.  A sample was tested and a serum of tetanus was given, but more deaths occurred.

Unlike the 1880s when the men in the lab coat were agricultural chemists now they began to look at the human being. The outbreak in the state of Missouri caught the attention of Congress.

By the year 1903, State and the Federal Government detected spoiled and contaminated products but there was no law concerning any product in a State, crossing State lines or shipped into the country from abroad. The scientists had to find a way of preserving products, and no the actual dose to give to humans regarding drugs. No one knew what food additive was safe – after several outbreaks of disease those same scientists would conduct their own study using themselves as the consumer. At the same table of test tubes sat men eating food with many additives, until they found one which would work.

Harvey Willie of the Institute of Infectious Diseases during 1903 introduced chemicals and conducted what was known as table trials.  Some people referred to them as the poison squad. These scientists were concerned with the adverse health effects from the food we consumed.

It was during this time when advertising took over in newspapers, billboards, and the traveling salesmen driving his cart pulled by a horse into cities and claiming their product was safe and had the ability to cure diseases such as cancer, etc. The men selling their product to the consumer advertised in various way, calling their product a soothing spirit, while children and adults began to die from the ingredients –  opium and heroin.

So it became a huge issue in Congress and instead of protecting the consumer it was voted on and divisions in government began.  As mentioned above, scientists were working at several levels to protect the people yet the partisan decision in Congress left far too much worry for experts, by agreeing to change the labeling of products, but not the ingredients – a stipulation fought by the American Medical Association and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

In 1905, Pres. Theodore Roosevelt was President, someone who would listen and not close his ears to problems.  At this time Colliers magazine created a lab where scientists could work to detect fraud concerning patent medication, those peddlers who sold products containing opium, heroin, morphine and cocaine. They also concentrated on the condition of meat products and the conditions where meat was on hold before it was shipped to market. It was Pres. Roosevelt who passed the bill concerning the labeling of such products – basically stating there would be no selling of rotten food or drugs. The law went into effect in 1906.  Now a consumer knew if opiates, cocaine and alcohol were part of the ingredients by reading the label.  Although the chemicals within the product were permitted to be sold it was the labeling which changed – and a great deal of work for the safety for the public was ahead of them, and they knew it.

Following the law of 1906, more things needed to be changed. On June 1, 1910, Walter Campbell, a lawyer, was the first inspector to abide by the instructions as an Inspector from the Bureau of Chemistry – US Department of Agriculture. Some of our elected officials in Washington D.C. were not pleased, having inspectors roaming around businesses in our country, yet this was certainly a bi partisan matter, concerning the welfare of the people.  Any thought of disturbing these inspectors from doing their job would have changed the protection we have today.  Although – nothing is one hundred percent safe, it was far better than peddling drugs onto the streets of our country which came from dirty facilities, harmful drugs, which killed hundreds of young children.

Still today in 2012, we hear differences regarding the safety of products made privately and shipped nationally and abroad.  The Chief Counsel from the FDA from 1970 to 1974, spoke of 2500 legal actions in the courts and 1000 criminal actions heard in 1910. Without inspectors, manufacturers would have continued the delivering and peddling from state to state – drugs unfit for human consumption.

A federal commission in 1912 was formed called the United States Public Health Service – the Medical Department of the Army and Navy.

During 1912 Willie left Washington to work in a lab set up by Good Housekeeping Magazine.

The Food and Drug Administration adapted a new study in 1927 concerning insecticides; copper, lead, and arsenic was limited to its medical use. During this time the export of apples from our country was banned in areas like Britin because the government removed the Bureu of Chemistry, which included toxicity of food from insecticides.

In 1930 Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the power to the FDA to check for food sprayed or soil with poisons, adding to the law.  This was added to the previous law, as the Government came down on the manufacturer to protect its people.  Walter Campbell who once headed the FDA, told the public it took five years to pass the additional wording to the law, in Congress – adding that it occurred during the depression when people had nothing and would use anything.   This reminds me of the pharmaceutical companies who hand down a name brand drug, to other companies, to prepare a generic – because of cost.

Previously, in 1917, the FDA’s annual report showed major deficiency in two types of products that should be under the 1906 act including medical devices and cosmetics.

It would be in 1930 when Ruth D. Forrest Lamb published her book America as chamber of horrors. She traveled around the country to let the public know things not regulated and being used by the public and she preached, “The Government must do something.”  Lamb, would travel around the country displaying the products and the dangers – cosmetics which caused blindness and medical devices known to be completely worthless. Only a couple examples talked about here. Lamb told the public about manufacturing companies who defrauded the public.

It would be in the fall of 1937 when an elixir introduced by Massengill Company of Bristol Tenn. and Va., for the treatment of conditions such as streptococci, this elixir would be the first antibiotic. It was known to be the first wonder drug but 240 gallons began to die – dyathenglicole was poisonous and included in the compound, anti-freeze.

The FDA tried to retrieve all 240 gallons bought 107 people had already died which meant the FDA needed safety testing before any new product went to market. It was directly in their faces, you could not place toxins into any preparation then hand it out for public use and watch them die. So the FDA knew they needed to revise and add to their laws.

By 1938 a Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the Science and Law act addressed the problem. Food standards required a label. Drugs by law had to list each ingredient and now they enforced church in labeling, the name and address of the manufacturer ingredients and safety testing of each product for the first time. Although this sounded perfect they would learn different. The standard of testing, although changed, is still part of the FDA. In 1938 they began testing animals to find out if it was suitable for the public use.

In 1939 the Federal Reorganization Act came into effect – the heading read – Federal Security Agency and directly beneath three different agencies, from left to right, FDA – Public Health Service –Social Security Administration. Now a new federal security agency was formed.

The activity and new medical products and drugs in the 40s brought about quality control on pharmaceuticals and vitamin supplements. This was the time of penicillin and insulin.  When the war began the 40s the FDA tested new drugs which would be shipped overseas to the military. The public health service provided more vaccines, protected the blood supply for our troops, but it was the penicillin breakthrough that made modern medicine. The strange thing is the industry was against it, working with a small piece of mole in their lab.

During the late 1940s the new national Institute of health began placebo trial’s. By the 1950s the animal trials and human clinical trials were the new standards and once more there was change in the system.

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