Many observers consider the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vital for the protection of consumer health and safety. One hundred years ago, Congress established the entity that would become the FDA and authorized it to regulate foods and drugs, critical responsibilities that the agency has long discharged carefully. Throughout the past century, the FDA’s regulatory power has expanded systematically, albeit gradually, while legislatures and courts in the fifty American jurisdictions broadened liability exposure for manufacturers that sold defective products that injured consumers. Observers have recently criticized the agency for overseeing pharmaceuticals too leniently, even as states increasingly narrowed manufacturers’ liability exposure. For instance, numerous jurisdictions have elevated burdens of proof and circumscribed damage awards.
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