By Lisa R. Burchi and Barbara A. Christianson
On February 22, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) announced that it will co-host a virtual public meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) on March 22, 2023. As stated in our February 17, 2023, blog, EPA and FDA are considering how best to update their respective oversight responsibilities for specific products in an efficient and transparent manner and in alignment with each agency’s expertise. According to EPA, the purpose of the comment period and virtual public meeting is to obtain feedback from stakeholders on ideas for modernizing EPA’s and FDA’s approach to product oversight.
EPA also has opened a docket for the agencies to receive comments on their current approach to the oversight of various products regulated as either pesticides by EPA or new animal drugs by FDA, with a focus on parasite treatment products applied topically to animals and in genetically engineered pest animals for use as pest control tools. EPA posted to the docket, and is requesting comments on, a document entitled, “WHITEPAPER: A Modern Approach to EPA and FDA Product Oversight,” (Whitepaper) which describes the current challenges and highlights the potential benefits of a modernized approach to oversight of these products. The Whitepaper is available at EPA-HQ-OPP-2023-0103, and comments on the Whitepaper are due on or before April 24, 2023.
In the Whitepaper, EPA focuses on two particular product types:
- Products administered topically to animals (e.g., flea and tick collars): EPA states that the “agencies have historically determined oversight for products topically administered to animals to treat fleas and ticks based on whether the chemical is systemically absorbed into the bloodstream (FDA oversight) or remains on the skin (EPA oversight).” Based on new understandings that many of these topically administered products regulated by EPA are systemically absorbed into the bloodstream as well as agreement by the agencies that FDA is better equipped to evaluate and monitor products topically administered to animals, the agencies are considering the transfer of approximately 600 topically administered products for external parasites on animals currently regulated by EPA to FDA.
- Genetically engineered pest animals (e.g., mosquitoes genetically engineered to control the mosquito population in the environment): EPA states a new approach can “provide the agencies with more flexibility to update and align their regulatory oversight of relevant products consistent with each agency’s mission and expertise.” No specific proposal is offered, although EPA notes that it “may need resources to expand its existing biotechnology program for products to control populations of pest animals and clarify the program’s approach to meet the needs of this growing industry.”
EPA announced that registration for the virtual public meeting is available and closes at 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on March 15, 2023. Requests for oral presentations must be made by March 15, 2023. Comments can be submitted in regulations.gov under docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2023-0103 until April 24, 2023. To register to attend the public meeting, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/547810324427.
Additional information is available at:
- Virtual Public Meeting: FDA and EPA Product Oversight
- Federal Register Notice
- Whitepaper: A Modern Approach to EPA and FDA Product Oversight
Stakeholders are urged to review the information EPA has made available and consider commenting upon these proposed changes and potentially other EPA-FDA jurisdictional issues. The current focus on products administered topically to animals may seem narrow, but there are broader implications both for this category and for other EPA-FDA jurisdictional issues. It is unclear, for example, if the agencies have sufficiently considered EPA’s expertise in evaluating risks to the environment that may be at issue for many products administered topically to animals, as these products are not limited to flea and tick collars as described in the Whitepaper. Besides this one proposal to transfer jurisdiction for these products from FDA to EPA, there are few concrete details or proposals, leaving open the possibility to submit comments to the agencies regarding other areas where industry has struggled to determine which agency has authority over certain products, components, and devices.