FDA reaffirms commitment to safety, security of its public health laboratories

Oct. 9, 2020

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn M.D. released a statement on the FDA’s mission to protect and promote public health by ensuring the safety of the nation’s food supply, as well as the safety and efficacy of medical products, which has always relied on a rigorous analysis of the scientific data available and a strong commitment to safety. 

Hahn continued: 

We are dedicated to helping ensure the safety of the American public through our work and the safety of all of our staff by continuing to support and strengthen a culture that prioritizes workplace safety. 

FDA staff across the nation work diligently to help ensure the safety of FDA-regulated products. I’ve seen this same dedication in their shared commitment to protecting each other and prioritizing safety across the agency, including our laboratories across the country. 

As we work together to build upon our strong safety charge, I’ve recently stood up a new cross-agency working group with support from the FDA’s senior leadership to optimize and further foster a holistic, cohesive, and collaborative safety culture. As part of their charge, the group will review our current organization structure and reporting relationships that support our safety program. 

This working group will explore best practices and incorporate and leverage the expertise of the existing safety councils within our agency to optimize ongoing efforts. The group will focus broadly on several areas in the safety space to include occupational safety and health, environmental safety, and laboratory safety; and will look to best practices in industry to determine if they can complement our regulatory organization. This effort is meant to strengthen the already robust safety measures that staff and senior leadership have implemented. I look forward to continuing my work with the FDA’s senior leadership to bolster an already strong culture of safety and security within the agency. 

As part of this broader safety effort, this new working group will also work to support ongoing safety initiatives at the FDA’s laboratories. We are committed to ensuring laboratory safety to protect our personnel and their research. To accomplish this important task, each center and office will continue to work collaboratively with the FDA’s Office of Laboratory Safety (OLS) to safeguard strong laboratory safety and security, and other laboratory-related environmental and occupational safety and health programs. This structure helps to leverage knowledge and experience from different laboratories, centers and offices at the agency to identify areas across the FDA that may benefit from agency-wide safety updates. It also creates a flexible model that can be adapted to reflect the diversity of research programs and potential hazards and risks that may be unique to specific programs or centers. 

Work carried out by the FDA experts at these laboratories is integral in informing regulatory decision-making and policy development, as well as in supporting efforts to help facilitate the development and availability of innovative, safe and effective medical products and a safe food supply. The FDA’s laboratories house more than 2,500 researchers and analysts, whose work contributes to the development of new approaches, standards, and methods for evaluating the safety, efficacy, quality, and performance of the diverse and complex products we regulate. Across the FDA, laboratory facilities help advance the work that we do to support our regulatory mission, from facilitating development of safe and effective medical and veterinary products to helping ensure the safety of the American food supply. 

FDA has the release

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