Customs, FDA Agree to Step Up Detection of Harmful Products

During fiscal year 2018, FDA staff posted at the nation's International Mail Facilities examined packages from more than 180 countries, with approximately 90 percent of the packages reviewed by the FDA found to contain products that should not have been entering the country.

Leaders of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection signed an agreement April 4 to maximize inspection and detection capabilities so they can prevent illegal and harmful products from entering the United States through the nation's International Mail Facilities and ports of entry. The agencies will work toward enhancing knowledge transfer to increase efficiency, reduce duplication of efforts, and facilitate mission responsibilities, collaborating on shared laboratory space, scientific equipment, and facilities.

"Today's letter of intent demonstrates the FDA's ongoing work with CBP and our other federal partners to ensure that FDA-regulated products imported into the U.S. are safe and otherwise comply with federal law," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. "Thousands of illicit and dangerous products come from overseas each day, such as unapproved fentanyl products, counterfeit prescription drugs, or fake over-the-counter products that look legitimate. In recent years, we've committed new resources and have been granted new authorities by Congress to target these violative products and stop them before they're able to enter our country. When bad actors try to circumvent the safety of our supply chains by breaking federal law, we'll take all appropriate action necessary to ensure these potential risks do not harm the American public."

"CBP and FDA have a long history of working jointly to protect the public from illegal or harmful products entering the U.S.," added U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan. "Information and resource sharing between agencies allows us to be more effective and more efficient in confronting threats. We are eager to see the results of this expanded partnership. I would also like to congratulate FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb for his accomplishments during his tenure and thank him for strengthening the CBP and FDA collaboration. We look forward to continuing these efforts with our colleagues at the FDA."

According to FDA, most mail arrives in an International Mail Facility (IMF) without advanced or specific identifying information. FDA uses advanced screening technology to assess the contents of these packages. The agency said an additional focus of this new effort will be coordinating shared space as well as increased scientific presence at high-risk/high-volume IMF locations.

During fiscal year 2018, FDA staff posted at the IMFs examined packages from more than 180 countries, with approximately 90 percent of the packages reviewed by the FDA found to contain products that should not have been entering the country. There are currently nine IMF locations -- one location each in Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and two locations in California. CBP provides security and facilitation operations at 328 ports of entry nationwide.

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