On April 2, 2019, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, M.D., and Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Legislation and International Affairs, Anna Abram, released a statement on the status of FDA’s Plant and Animal Biotechnology Innovation Action Plan (Action Plan). Focused on FDA’s risk-based regulatory framework, the Action Plan aims at securing confidence in the safety and performance of plant and animal-based products for consumers, patients, and U.S. trading partners. In his published statement, Dr. Gottlieb emphasizes FDA’s ongoing implementation of the Action Plan, particularly on intentional genomic alterations in animals. Using genetic engineering and genome editing technologies, these innovations are providing additional clarity about how FDA’s regulatory framework works and should continue to work. A key part of the Action Plan’s implementation involves FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine’s Innovation Program, which provides sponsors with innovative products based on genomic alterations in animals to benefit from early feedback and guidance.
In the released statement, Abram further highlights the impacts of intentional genomic alterations in animals on human health. DNA editing not only benefits animals by halting animal-to-animal transmission of diseases, but also has the potential to benefit humans. According to Abram, FDA has already evaluated and approved several intentional genomic alterations in animals that produce drugs used to treat human diseases, advance the studies of new drugs, as well as human organ and tissue transplants. The Commissioners state that by ensuring safety of intentional genomic alterations to animals and animal-derived foods, FDA will continue to evaluate the effectivity of these alterations based on the totality of evidence provided rather than from any one particular assessment or result.
On April 25, 2019, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research will host a live webinar to discuss policy changes that may improve the Action Plan framework.