Protecting America's Health by Philip J. Hilts
The FDA, Business, and One Hundred Years of Regulation

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Emerging out of the era of the robber barons and Theodore Roosevelt’s desire to “civilize capitalism,” the Food and Drug Administration was created to stop the trade in adulterated meats and quack drugs. In the almost one hundred years since, it has evolved from a squad of eleven inspectors dogging dishonest tradesmen into America’s most important regulatory agency, keeping tabs on the products of about 95,000 businesses and more than $1 trillion worth of goods annually.

This book shows how the agency combats self-serving political and industrial interests and protects Americans from hazardous medicines, medical devices, and foodstuffs while enforcing rigorous scientific standards. Hilts takes us back to the FDA’s beginnings, when it confronted businesses that acknowledged no limitations on what could be brought to market or on the claims they could make for a product. With the coming of the FDA, our government, for the first time, was able to force the removal of toxic elixirs from the shelves and to insist on accurate labeling.

We see the subsequent fights the FDA waged, and won, for mandatory testing, and against such conservatives as—in our own time—Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich, who tried to curtail regulation. We see how the FDA protected the American consumer from thalidomide and other lethal pharmaceuticals, how it took on the tobacco industry, and how it stumbled in confronting the deadly mysteries of AIDS. And we are given, as well, a litany of extraordinary corporate excesses that the FDA has exposed and successfully battled.

Protecting America’s Health shows society adapting to both the burgeoning of science and technology and the ascendancy of the capitalist market. It makes startlingly clear the essential role the FDA has played in maintaining and protecting the quality of life—and health—to which the American public has long been accustomed.

About Philip J. Hilts

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Philip J. Hilts has written about medicine for the Washington Post and the New York Times (since 1989). He is the author of Smokescreen: The Truth Behind the Tobacco Industry Cover-Up, Memory’s Ghost: The Nature of Memory and The Strange Tale of Mr. M., and Scientific Temperaments: Three Lives in Contemporary Science, a finalist for the National Book Award. He and his wife live in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Published March 25, 2003 by Knopf. 416 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Born in the Progressive Era as the US Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Chemistry but hobbled by minimal budgets and authority, the FDA had little effectiveness until the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, sparked by public concern over children’s deaths caused by sulfanilamide, gave it th...

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As Hilts shows, strong policies often emerged in the wake of tragedies or scandals: the case of thalidomide, a drug introduced in the late 1950s as a sedative and to relieve morning sickness but that caused pregnant women to give birth to severely deformed infants (the number is conservatively es...

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Rousing and readable: sure to brings smiles at the FDA and howls of protest from industry lobbyists.

Apr 02 2003 | Read Full Review of Protecting America's Health: ...

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