The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, products that emit radiation, and tobacco products. The FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer, and more affordable; and helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health.
Nanomaterials often have chemical, physical, or biological properties that are different from those of their larger-scale counterparts. Such differences may include altered magnetic, electrical, or optical properties, structural integrity, and chemical or biological activity. Because of researchers’ ability to engineer such properties, nanoscale materials have great potential for use in a vast array of products, including FDA-regulated products intended to protect and promote public health. Also, because of some of their special properties, nanomaterials may pose different issues for toxicological, safety, and effectiveness assessments. There is a growing need for scientific information and tools to help better predict or detect potential impacts of such changes on human health. FDA nanotechnology investments have focused on enabling the agency to characterize nanotechnology-based products; develop models for safety and efficacy assessment; and study the behavior of nanomaterials in biological systems and their effects on human health.
Formally joining the National Nanotechnology Initiative budget crosscut for the first time in 2011, FDA will conduct activities in environment, health, and safety to support the following agency-wide priorities: (1) laboratory and product testing capacity, (2) scientific staff development and training, and (3) collaborative and interdisciplinary research to address product characterization and safety. Together, these investments will support responsible development of nanotechnology.