By Seán Finan
On 16th September, 2016, the White House released two documents jointly authored by the FDA, the EPA and the USDA. Together, the “Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology” (the “Update”) and the “National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products” (the “Strategy”) will form the basis for the federal government’s regulatory policy for biotech for the foreseeable future. So, where did these documents come from? What do they contain?
Last year, the federal government asked the FDA, the EPA and the USDA to
- Clarify the current roles and responsibilities of the EPA, FDA, and USDA in the regulatory process;
- Develop a long-term strategy to ensure that the Federal regulatory system is equipped to efficiently assess the risks, if any, of the future products of biotechnology; and
- Commission an expert analysis of the future landscape of biotechnology products
14 months, three public meetings and 900 responses to a Request for Information later, the two documents were released. The Update sets out to respond to the first of the above prompts and the Strategy aims to respond to the second. An answer to the third is still in the pipeline.
The underlying policy is made explicit in the first paragraph of the Strategy’s Executive Summary (p4):
The policy of the United States Government is to seek regulatory approaches that protect health and the environment while reducing regulatory burdens and avoiding unjustifiably inhibiting innovation, stigmatizing new technologies, or creating trade barriers
Apart from clarifying the current roles of the FDA, EPA and USDA and setting out the path for future developments, both documents make it clear that they aim
- to help the public understand how the safety of biotechnology products is evaluated and
- to help businesses navigate the current regulatory structure.