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The Food and Drug Administration or FDA is the official regulatory committee for drugs, foods, cosmetics and medical devices in the United States of America. It is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is responsible for food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter medication, vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, medical devices, devices that emit electromagnetic radiation, veterinary products, cosmetics, sanitation involving interstate travel. It has it's headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland and has field offices in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. It operates 13 laboratories throughout the United States. It regulates trade in consumer goods worth about $1 trillion per year - 25% of all consumer spending, as well as one-third of all imports into the United States. It has an annual budget of about $2 billion.
The FDA was established in 1906 to administer the Pure Food and Drug Act, which was passed largely in response to a poisoning incident where poisonous ethylene glycol was substituted for harmless glycerine. The two substances are virtually identical in taste and consistency. The FDA was given wide authority to deal with impure or adulterated food and medication. In 1927, the FDA was given additional powers to combat false claims of therapeutic benefits from "medicines" with no active ingredients. It was given further powers in 1938 to deal with supposedly harmless non-drug products, like cosmetics, that caused harm.
Since the 1960s, the FDA has been responsible for the rigorous pre-approval of drugs prior to their release into the marketplace that was largely the result of congenital defects from the use of thalidomide.