Nanotechnology has enormous potential to revolutionize the drug, medical device, cosmetic and food industries, butÂ according to a new report, the FDA lacks a standard regulatory procedure for approving nanotech products. Hundreds of nanotech products are already on the market, yet the long-term effects arenâ€™t fully understood and could be hazardous. Nanoscale materials often have chemical, physical, or biological properties that are different from those of their larger counterparts and there is a critical need to ensure that these new technologies work as intended without any unforseen consequences.
Last August the FDA created a task force to advise the agency on nanotech products to boost the agencyâ€™s oversight of the technology. The members of the task force were to recommend ways to fill any policy or knowledge gaps in the field, with a particular focus on any health threats that could be posed by the science of the very small. Now the FDAâ€™s Nanotechnology Task Force has concluded that the agency doesnâ€™t have the expertise, tools or regulatory pathways needed to assess the impact of nanotech drugs and medical devices on human health. In order for nanotechnology to safely achieve its potential, the task force recommends that the FDA adopt guidance for manufacturers and researchers that "ensur[e] transparent, consistent, and predictable regulatory pathways." This means beefing up the FDAâ€™s in-house expertise on the subject. Additionally, the agency needs to examine whether the tools available to describe and evaluate nanoscale materials are sufficient, and to develop additional tools where necessary.
"Nanotechnology holds enormous potential for use in a vast array of products," said Commissioner of Food and Drugs Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D. "Recognizing the emerging nature of this technology and its potential for rapid development, this report fosters the continued development of innovative, safe and effective FDA-regulated products that use nanotechnology materials.
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