President Clinton signed legislation Friday giving the Food and Drug Administration new authority to speed the approval of lifesaving drugs and medical devices in the battle against such killer diseases as cancer and AIDS.
"The FDA has always set the gold standard for protecting the public safety," Clinton said in a ceremony in the Old Executive Office Building. "Today, it wins the gold medal for leading the way into the future." A hard-fought compromise, the FDA Modernization Act of 1977, was a major congressional accomplishment even though it took three years to hammer out its terms.Clinton said the new law lets the FDA continue working with the medical and business communities to get new drugs and devices approved far earlier than before. "And we will offer hope to critically ill Americans by extending access to drugs and devices whose approval is still pending," he said. "For many people experimental treatment represents the best and perhaps the only chance of recovery."