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Drug Safety: Preliminary Findings Suggest Weaknesses in FDA's Program for Inspecting Foreign Drug Manufacturers

GAO-08-224T Published: Nov 01, 2007. Publicly Released: Nov 01, 2007.
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Many drugs marketed in the United States are manufactured in foreign countries and the value of such products entering the country is increasing. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for overseeing the safety and effectiveness of human drugs that are marketed in the United States, whether they are manufactured in foreign or domestic establishments. Foreign establishments that market their drugs in the United States must register with FDA and FDA inspects foreign establishments to ensure that they meet the same standards that are required of domestic ones. GAO reported 9 years ago that FDA needed to improve its foreign drug inspection program (GAO/HEHS-98-21). Questions remain as to whether FDA has improved its management of the foreign drug inspection program. This statement discusses preliminary information on (1) the extent to which FDA has accurate data to manage the foreign drug inspection program, (2) the frequency of foreign inspections and factors influencing the selection of establishments to inspect, and (3) issues unique to conducting foreign inspections. To address these issues GAO interviewed FDA officials; reviewed pertinent statutes, regulations, and guidance; and analyzed information from FDA databases. Because of the preliminary nature of our work, we are not making recommendations at this time.

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AccountabilityData integrityDatabasesFood and drug legislationForeign governmentsImported drugsImportingInspectionInternational relationsInvestigations by federal agenciesPharmaceutical industryPrescription drugsProduct safetyProgram managementRisk assessmentProgram implementation