The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is expected to take up again this afternoon legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products.
“Today, the Senate begins the final steps toward passage of legislation that should have been enacted years ago — authority for the FDA to regulate tobacco products, the most lethal of all consumer products,” Sen. Edward Kennedy, who chairs the committee, said Tuesday in a written statement.
The U.S. House “overwhelmingly passed a nearly identical bill last month,” Sen. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, said. “Once approved by this committee, the FDA Tobacco bill will move quickly to the Senate floor, where it has the support of a strong bipartisan majority. President Obama is anxiously waiting to sign it into law.”
What can the FDA accomplish? According to Kennedy, it can, among other things, regulate tobacco advertising to children, help smokers overcome their addictions, and make tobacco products less toxic and addictive.
Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown and Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, said an amendment they proposed to study and report on the health effects of tobacco candy was added to the legislation on Tuesday.
It’s not the first time the FDA has tried to regulate tobacco, according to Scientific American. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked rules crafted by then FDA Commissioner David Kessler, saying the food and drug agency lacked the authority to regulate tobacco without congressional action. The Senate also passed a similar bill five years ago.
More stories worth a read:
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- Biotech’s ‘perfect storm’ moves into Atlanta (FierceBiotech)
- KPCB invests $15 mln in Chinese biotech firm (Reuters)
- Glaxo offers WHO 50 million pandemic vaccines (Boston Globe)
- Swine flu cases balloon worldwide (Forbes)
- Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine graduates inaugural class (Case Western Reserve University news center)
- Charity to bridge drug R&D gap (Financial Times)
- Green Mountain for docs? Vermont wants data on industry pay (Wall Street Journal Health blog)
- Medtronic warns of defect with 37,000 pacemakers (Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune)
- Medtronic to cut 600 jobs from state rolls (Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune)
- Cardiologist Eric Topol outlines goals for San Diego’s West Wireless Healthcare Institute (Xconomy | San Diego)
[Photo by Flickr user SuperFantastic]