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BU: Professor Develops Report to Help Strengthen Food and Drug Regulatory Agencies

Effective food and drug regulatory systems are critical components of a functioning global health system. A new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) underscores the need to strengthen these systems to increase worldwide access to safe food and quality medicines, and move closer to achieving the United Nations’ goal of universal health coverage by 2030.

The study report was commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration and developed by NASEM’s Committee on Stronger Food and Drug Regulatory Systems Abroad, a group of 12 international experts on food and medication safety, health systems, and policy, including Dr. Veronika Wirtz, associate professor of global health at the Boston University School of Public Health.

Released in January, the report provides strategies that regulatory agencies can implement to increase the availability of safe food and medicines globally, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. It also suggests actions that government agencies, international development donors, and the World Health Organization can take to bolster collaboration among food and drug regulators.

“A functioning national regulatory agency is not only relevant to protect the health of the population in that country but also globally,” says Dr. Wirtz. “Food and medicines productions are global enterprises increasing our interdependence. Investing in the development of these institutions as a global public good should be in the interest of our collective social and economic wellbeing.”

Globally, it is estimated that more than 400,000 people die yearly from consuming unsafe foods, and millions more are at risk of illness or death as a result of poor-quality medicines.

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