S. 3187, "Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act" passes in Senate

Prior to adjourning for the Memorial Say recess, the Senate, on 05/24/2012, by a vote of 96-1, passed  S. 3187, the "Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act", " To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to revise and extend the user-fee programs for prescription drugs and medical devices, to establish user-fee programs for generic drugs and biosimilars, and for other purposes", after previously adopting an amendment in the nature of a substitute-  an amendment in the nature of a substitute strips all of the language of a bill following the enacting clause and replaces it with new language - offered by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Included as part of the language of the amendment was Title XI - Other Provisions, Subtitle C- Misc. Provisions, Section 1133, "Nanotechnology Regulatory Science Program":


    (a) In General- Chapter X (21 U.S.C. 391 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:


    `(a) In General- Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, the Secretary, in consultation as appropriate with the Secretary of Agriculture, shall establish within the Food and Drug Administration a Nanotechnology Regulatory Science Program (referred to in this section as the `program') to enhance scientific knowledge regarding nanomaterials included or intended for inclusion in products regulated under this Act or other statutes administered by the Food and Drug Administration, to address issues relevant to the regulation of those products, including the potential toxicology of such materials, the effects of such materials on biological systems, and interaction of such materials with biological systems.

    `(b) Program Purposes- The purposes of the program established under subsection (a) may include--

    `(1) assessing scientific literature and data on general nanomaterials interactions with biological systems and on specific nanomaterials of concern to the Food and Drug Administration;

    `(2) in cooperation with other Federal agencies, developing and organizing information using databases and models that will facilitate the identification of generalized principles and characteristics regarding the behavior of classes of nanomaterials with biological systems;

    `(3) promoting Food and Drug Administration programs and participate in collaborative efforts, to further the understanding of the science of novel properties of nanomaterials that might contribute to toxicity;

    (4) promoting and participating in collaborative efforts to further the understanding of measurement and detection methods for nanomaterials;

    (5) collecting, synthesizing, interpreting, and disseminating scientific information and data related to the interactions of nanomaterials with biological systems;

    (6) building scientific expertise on nanomaterials within the Food and Drug Administration, including field and laboratory expertise, for monitoring the production and presence of nanomaterials in domestic and imported products regulated under this Act;

    (7) ensuring ongoing training, as well as dissemination of new information within the centers of the Food and Drug Administration, and more broadly across the Food and Drug Administration, to ensure timely, informed consideration of the most current science pertaining to nanomaterials;

    (8) encouraging the Food and Drug Administration to participate in international and national consensus standards activities pertaining to nanomaterials; and

    (9) carrying out other activities that the Secretary determines are necessary and consistent with the purposes described in paragraphs (1) through (8).

    (c) Program Administration-

    (1) DESIGNATED INDIVIDUAL- In carrying out the program under this section, the Secretary, acting through the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, may designate an appropriately qualified individual who shall supervise the planning, management, and coordination of the program.

    (2) DUTIES- The duties of the individual designated under paragraph (1) may include--

    (A) developing a detailed strategic plan for achieving specific short- and long-term technical goals for the program;

    (B) coordinating and integrating the strategic plan with activities by the Food and Drug Administration and other departments and agencies participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative; and

    (C) developing Food and Drug Administration programs, contracts, memoranda of agreement, joint funding agreements, and other cooperative arrangements necessary for meeting the long-term challenges and achieving the specific technical goals of the program.

    (d) Report- Not later than March 15, 2015, the Secretary shall publish on the Internet Web site of the Food and Drug Administration a report on the program carried out under this section. Such report shall include--

    (1) a review of the specific short- and long-term goals of the program;

    (2) an assessment of current and proposed funding levels for the program, including an assessment of the adequacy of such funding levels to support program activities; and

    (3) a review of the coordination of activities under the program with other departments and agencies participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative.

    (e) Effect of Section- Nothing in this section shall affect the authority of the Secretary under any other provision of this Act or other statutes administered by the Food and Drug Administration.'.

    (b) Effective Date; Sunset- The Nanotechnology Regulatory Science Program authorized under section 1013 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (as added by subsection (a)) shall take effect on October 1, 2012, or the date of the enactment of this Act, whichever is later. Such Program shall cease to be effective October 1, 2017.

Except for some stylistic changes and the removal of a subparagraph on appropriations, Sect. 1133 is the language of S. 1662 , the "Nanotechnology Regulatory Science Act of 2011", introduced on 10/06/2011 by Senator Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) andSenator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and subsequently assigned to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions . No hearings were ever held on the bill nor was it ever reported out of committee.

During floor debates on S. 3187, Senator Cardin urged his felllow Senators to support and pass S. 3187, focusing on the language of Sec. 1134:

Mr. CARDIN. Madam President, I rise to discuss the FDA Safety and Innovation Act, the bill now under consideration here in the Senate.. . .

I express my appreciation to Senator Pryor for his leadership on nanotechnology. I am pleased to join him in this effort and am hopeful that the language we have sponsored can be included in this bill.

   Nanotechnology has become increasingly indispensible in our daily lives--everything from cellphones and MP3 players, to packaging of our snack foods, to cancer treatments in development employ the use of nanotechnology.

   As this burgeoning technology continues to power more of our consumer products and drive job creation in America, it is essential that we fully assess, understand, and address any risks that it may pose to safety, public health and our environment.

   By soundly assessing the safety of nanotechnology and developing best practices, the Nanotechnology Regulatory Science Act of 2011 will further job creation, public safety and growth in the industry.

   Our bill would establish a program within the FDA to assess the health and safety implications of using nanotechnology in everyday products, and develop best practices for companies using nanotechnology. This new program would bring more highly-skilled research jobs to Maryland.

   FDA's laboratories and research facilities at its consolidated headquarters are ideally suited to conduct the scientific studies required under the bill.

   The USDA's Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, BARC, is similarly equipped to provide innovative scientific technology, training, methods development, and technical expertise to improve public health.  . . . .

 I also will mention one other issue: nanotechnology. I congratulate Senator Pryor for his leadership in this area. Programs at FDA to access health safety facts and using nanotechnology in everyday products is something we need to do. This legislation advances that. I point out that I am proud that the lab facilities at the FDA are fully capable of dealing with the challenges presented by nanotechnology. This legislation acknowledges that.

   We also, in Maryland, are proud of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, which will advance nanotechnology and the impact it has on everyday products and safety. Those issues will be addressed also by the underlying bill. We very much appreciate the leadership of the committee.

On 05/30/2012, the House, under a suspension of the rules, passed H.R. 5651, the "Food and Drug Administration Reform Act of 2012". H.R. 5651 differs substantially from S. 3187; among these differences, H.R. 5651 contains no provisions regarding nanotechnology. These differences in language mean that a Conference Committee will be appointed to write a version of the two bills that should be adopted by both the Senate and the House. Although such a committee has not been appointed as of this date, one is expected to be formed soon. As with other legislation affecting nanotechnology we will monitor S.3187 and H.R. 5651 and update this site accordingly.  

International Center for Technology Assessment et al v. Hamburg

On December 21, 2011, the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), along with fellow plaintiffs Friends of the Earth (FOE), the Center for Environmental Health, Food and Water Watch, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration filed a complaint in the US District Court for the District of Norther California against Margaret A. Hamburg, Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), requesting that "this Court enter an Order:


(1) Declaring that the Defendants have violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to respond to the 2006 Petition within a reasonable time;

(2) Declaring that the Defendants continue to be in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to respond to the 2006 Petition;

(3) Ordering Defendants to respond to the 2006 Petition as soon as reasonably practicable"

In May of 2006, ICTA filed a "Petition Requesting FDA Amend Its Regulations for Products Composed of Engineered Nanoparticles Generally and Sunscreen Drug Products Composed of Engineered Nanoparticles Specifically". The petition requested "that the Commissioner undertake the following actions with regards to all nanomaterial products:

1) Amend FDA regulations to include nanotechnology definitions necessary to properly regulate nanomaterial products . . . .

2) Issue a formal advisory opinion explaining FDA's position regarding engineered nanoparticles in products regulated by FDA.

3) Enact new regulations directed at FDA oversight of nanomaterial products establishing and requiring . . .that: nanoparticles be treated as new substances; nanomaterials be subjected to nano-spefic paradigms of health and safety testing; and that nanomaterial products be labeled to delineate all nanoparticle ingredients

4) Any currently existing or future regulatory FDA programs for nanomaterial products must comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) including . . . that FDA conduct a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) reviewing the impacts of nanomaterial products on human health and the environment.

Petitioners request that the Commissioner undertake the following actions with regard to nanomaterial sunscreen drug products:

5) Reopen the Administrative Record of the Final Over the Counter (OTC) Sunscreen Drug Product Monograph for the purpose of considering and analyzing information on engineered nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide currently used in sunscreens.

6) Amend the OTC Sunscreen Drug Monograph to address engineered nanoparticles, instructing that sunscreen products containing engineered nanoparticles are not covered under the Mongraph and instead are "new drugs" for which manufacturers must complete a New Drug Application. . . .

7) Declare all currently available sunscreen drug products containing engineered nanoparticles of zinx oxide and titanium dioxide as an imminent hazard to public health and order entities using the nanoparticles in sunscreens regulated by FDA to cease manufacture until FDA's Sunscreen Drug Monograph is finalized and FDA nanotechnology regulations are developed and implemented.

8) Request a recall from manufacturers of all pulically available sunscreen drug products containing engineered nanoparticles of titatium dioxide and/or zinc oxide until the manufacturers . . .complete new drug applications, those applications are approved by the agency, and the manufactureres otherwise comply with FDA's relevant nanomaterial product testing regulations.

FDA held open meetings and established docket FDA -2006-P-0213 (two versions of this docket exist, on Regulations.gov and on the FDA's site). Comments were filed by various stakeholders between 2006 and 2009. Many of these comments, such as those submitted by Purest Colloids Inc and the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CFTA) severly criticized the ITCA's petition and urged the FDA not to take the actions requested in the petition.

In an interim response dated Nov. 9, 2006, Randall W. Lutter, then the FDA's Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning noted that the

. . .FDA has been unable to reach a decision on your petition because it raises complex issues requiring extensive review and analysis by agency officials. . . . We will respond to your petition as soon as we have reached a decision on your requests.

Almost six years later, FDA is still in the process of formulating regulations and policy affecting nanotechnology and nanoindustry.

The parties in the case have been referred by the US Distirct Court to Alternative Dispute Resolution. We will continue to monitor the case and update as warranted.


The parties in International Center for Technology Assessment et al v Hamburg, in a stipulation filed with the court on January 13, 2012, agreed  to grant the EPA " an extension of time to April 23, 2012 to answer, move, or otherwise respond to the complaint". EPA requested the extension "because defendent is working in good faith to respond to the citizen petition . . .on or before April 23, 2012."

As before, we'll keep monitoring and updating as warranted.

Take two silver nanoparticles and call me in the morning

For decades after it was discovered, penicillin was used to combat bacteria and, eventually, almost every other disease, whether it was the appropriate treatment or not. Over time and over use of penicillin and its successor drugs, resistant strains of bacteria began to appear, to the point where, now, many strains of bacteria are almost completely drug resistant.

According to a recent article posted to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) site, nanosilver might become the 21st century's penicillin, being widely used in the medical field, but also in consumer products, such as combs, hair dryers,  men's socks, and underwear.

Some of this overuse of nanosilver is probably due to companies simply following trends and wanting to appear cutting edge or it may be due to marketing efforts that fall into the "All New!" category. Other companies may be adding nanosilver as part of a genuine effort to improve their products and make them healthier, although how much healthier underwear is with nanosilver as opposed to underwear without is a debate probably best left to others.

While a total ban on the sale of products containing nanosilver, which groups such as Friends of the Earth propose is unlikely, (and frankly seems more like simplistic fear mongering than anything else), regulations on the amount of nanosilver in consumer products, based on the results of reputable studies and tests on the effects on humans and bacteria of prolonged exposure to nanosilver particles are needed.

Personally, I'd start by regulating the amount of silver nanoparticles in men's underwear.

Nanotechnology Conference: Food & Drug Law Institute

The Food & Drug Law Institute is holding its 2nd Annual Conference on Nanotechnology Law, Regulation and Policy on February 18-19, 2009 at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC.  Register here.

Topics include:

  • What progress is FDA making in implementing its Nanotechnology Task Force Report?
  • What can FDA learn from EPA and other oversight agencies the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI)?
  • Will the Democratic Congress invest in and/or regulate nanotechnology more than under the Bush Administration?
  • Are workers exposed to asbestos-like dangers from dealing with nano products?
  • How does a responsible company devise a risk management plan for nanotech
  • development — one that takes into account OSHA and NIOSH policy?
  • What is reasonable and required federal funding for U.S nanotechnology R&D, including monies for safety and social policy research?
  • Are China and Japan ahead of the U.S. in nanotech development?
  • For nanotech products and processes, should particle size make a regulatory difference?

Nanotechnology: A New Weapon in the Battle Against Counterfeit Goods

By Laurie N. Jacques:

Counterfeiting is widespread because it is lucrative and often difficult to detect. Nanowerk highlights the use of nanotechnology in the battle against counterfeit goods. Nanoencryption provides a new option for distinguishing between genuine and counterfeit goods, particularly pharmaceuticals.

Drug counterfeiting is particularly problematic because it compromises patient safety in addition to causing monetary losses and erosion of brand value. The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest estimates that counterfeit drug sales are growing at an annual rate of about 13% – nearly the twice the growth rate of genuine pharmaceutical products – and could reach $75 billion by 2010.

Anti-counterfeiting strategies rely heavily on supply chain monitoring and control, which may include the use of specially printed labels and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to identify products at the package level. These labels and tags are readily visible to counterfeiters who can then try to circumvent or replicate them. More importantly, their use is limited to tracking of package, not the package contents.

As the Nanowerk article explains, nanoencryption offers advantages in identification and monitoring of pharmaceutical products. Individual tablets of other unit doses may be tagged, not just the package that holds them and the tags are invisible to the naked eye. Authentication is quick and does not destroy the tablet so the tablet can be used later as evidence in a civil or criminal action. Nanoencryption also may be useful in authenticating other frequently counterfeited items such as currency, auto and aircraft parts, software, and luxury goods.