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":

SEC. 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:

`SEC. 1013. NANOTECHNOLOGY REGULATORY SCIENCE PROGRAM.

    `(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.  

Progress in the Commercialization of Graphene

European Plastics News posted an article on it's site last week,("Graphene developers seek routes out of the lab"), focusing on challenges to and progress in the commercialization of graphene, specifically its "potential as a mutlifunctional reinforcement in composites".

Among the challenges the article raises are:

1) Entangling of 3D carbon nanotubes (CNTS) bundles

2) Individual graphite sheets restacking themselves

3) Handling of such shets during transportation to processing facilities

4) Reduction of costs of production and transportation

5) A need to develop standard operating procedures for potential health hazards

While these challenges may seem daunting, the success of three companies - Vorbeck Materials of Maryland,Cabot Corporation of Massachusetts, and Thomas Swan & Co., based in the United Kingdom - are highlighted.

The article also discusses the ongoing support of  the European Commission (EC) and the UK's government of research in graphene and how to commercialize it.:

The European Commission is planning to channel €1bn over 10 years into co-ordinated graphene research and commercialisation. The UK government has announced it wants to spend another £50m (€60.7m) to keep the UK at the forefront of graphene research, with the University of Manchester set to host a national institute of graphene research. Commercialisation of graphene by this route could arrive by late 2012.

Converted in US dollars, the EC will be spending $1.278 billion and the UK $78.153 million.

Chapter 163, MD Task Force to Study Nanobiotechnology

The General Assembly of Maryland has concluded its annual 90 day session. Among the bills that were passed during this year's session was House Bill 795, introduced by Delegate Susan C. Lee

As introduced, HB 795 was to establish a "Task Force to Study Nanotechnology and Nanobiotechnology", but was amended to focus solely on Nanobiotechnology and was passed by both the MD State Senate and the House of Delegates on April 1, 2010, signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley on April 13, 2010 and Chapterized as Chapter 163 Acts of 2010.

The Task Force is to be composed of members appointed by the President of the MD State Senate, the Speaker of the House of Delegates - these individuals will serve as co-chairs of the task force - the Secretary of Business and Economic Development, Chair of the MD Technology Development Corporation or their designees. The Governor is empowered to appoint three representatives to the task force from universities and colleges in Maryland that are involved in research in nanobiotechnology and two CEOs of nanobiotech companies. In addition, the Directors of NIH, NIST, FDA and the USPTO or their designees are also to be invited to become part of the task force.

The task force is charged with studying the benefits  of the nanobiotech industry, ranging from job creation to "the generation of revenues for the state", the state's role in supporting nanobiotech, including promoting private-public partnerships, offering financial incentives for nanobiotech companies to establish themselves in Maryland, etc.. The task force is also charged with reporting its recommendations to the Governor on or before 01/11/2011, prior to the beginning of the next General Assembly session.

The State of Maryland has been criticized lately as having an "unfriendly" business environment for existing businesses or for companies that might relocate or expand into Maryland. Such criticism may become one of the themes of the 2010 election season in the state. Forward looking legislation such as Chapter 163, designed to help attract the next generation of nanoindustry, may help to prove that criticism wrong.