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Governmental Oversight of Prescribing Medications: History of the US Food and Drug Administration and Prescriptive Authority


  • Linda S. Plank RN, PhD, NEA-BC

Address correspondence to Linda S. Plank, RN, PhD, NEA-BC, 8912 Westglen Drive, Dallas, TX 75228. E-mail:


The evolution of drug regulation and awarding of prescriptive authority is a complex and sometimes convoluted process that can be confusing for health care providers. A review of the history of how drugs have been manufactured and dispensed helps explain why this process has been so laborious and complicated. Because the federal and state governments have the responsibility for protecting the public, most regulations have been passed with the intentions of ensuring consumer safety. The current system of laws and regulations is the result of many years of using the legal system to correct drug marketing that had adverse health consequences. Government oversight will continue as prescribing medications transitions to an electronic form and as health care professionals in addition to physicians seek to gain prescriptive authority.