Kefauver Harris Amendment

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Drug Amendments of 1962
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn act to protect the public health by amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to assure the safety, effectiveness, and reliability of drugs, authorize standardization of drug names, and clarify and strengthen existing inspection authority; and for other purposes.
  • Drug Efficacy Amendment
  • Kefauver Harris Amendment
Enacted bythe 87th United States Congress
EffectiveOctober 10, 1962
Public law87-781
Statutes at Large76 Stat. 780
Acts amendedFederal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
Titles amended21 U.S.C.: Food and Drugs
U.S.C. sections amended21 U.S.C. ch. 9 § 301 et seq.
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 1552 by Estes Kefauver (DTN) on July 19, 1962
  • Committee consideration by Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Passed the Senate on August 23, 1962 (78–22)
  • Passed the House on August 23, 1962 (passed)
  • Reported by the joint conference committee on October 4, 1962; agreed to by the House on October 4, 1962 (347–88) and by the Senate on October 4, 1962 (passed)
  • Signed into law by President John F. Kennedy on October 10, 1962

The U.S. Kefauver Harris Amendment or "Drug Efficacy Amendment" is a 1962 amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

It introduced a requirement for drug manufacturers to provide proof of the effectiveness and safety of their drugs before approval,[1][2] required drug advertising to disclose accurate information about side effects, and stopped cheap generic drugs being marketed as expensive drugs under new trade names as new "breakthrough" medications.


The amendment was a response to the thalidomide tragedy, in which thousands of children were born with birth defects as a result of their mothers taking thalidomide for morning sickness during pregnancy.[3] The bill by U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver, of Tennessee, and U.S. Representative Oren Harris, of Arkansas, required drug manufacturers to provide proof of the effectiveness and safety of their drugs before approval. The majority of the tragic birth defects that occurred were in other countries because Thalidomide had not been approved for use in the United States. However, samples were distributed to physicians in the US and 17 birth defects were attributed to its use.[4] Frances Oldham Kelsey was the FDA reviewer who refused to approve Thalidomide for use.

It introduced a "proof-of-efficacy" requirement for the first time.[1] In addition, the Amendment required drug advertising to disclose accurate information about side effects and efficacy of treatments. Finally, cheap generic drugs could no longer be marketed as expensive drugs under new trade names as new "breakthrough" medications.

The law was signed by President John F. Kennedy on October 10, 1962.


The Kefauver Harris Amendment strengthened the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's control of experimentation on humans and changed the way new drugs are approved and regulated. Before the Thalidomide scandal in Europe, and Canada,[5] U.S. drug companies only had to show their new products were safe. After the passage of the Amendment, an FDA New Drug Application (NDA) would have to show that a new drug was both safe and effective (previously the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was the main law that regulated drug safety). Informed consent was required of patients participating in clinical trials, and adverse drug reactions were required to be reported to the FDA.

The Drug Efficacy Study Implementation was begun to classify all pre-1962 drugs that were already on the market as either effective, ineffective, or needing further study.

Estes Kefauver considered the Amendment his "finest achievement" in consumer protection[citation needed].

Louis Lasagna, then a prominent clinical pharmacologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, advised Congress about the proper conduct of clinical research during the 1962 hearings leading up to passage of the Amendment.

The law also exempted from the "Delaney clause" (a 1958 amendment to the Food, Drugs, and Cosmetic Act of 1938) certain animal drugs and animal feed additives shown to induce cancer, but which left no detectable levels of residue in the human food supply.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Peltzman, Sam. An Evaluation of Consumer Protection Legislation: The 1962 Drug Amendments. The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 81, No. 5. (Sep. - Oct., 1973), pp. 1051.
  2. ^ "Promoting Safe and Effective Drugs for 100 Years". The Kefauver-Harris Drug Amendments. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  3. ^ O'Reilly, James, Jurisdiction to Decide an Agency's Own Jurisdiction: The Forgotten Tale of the Hynson Quartet, Administrative Law Review, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Fall 2006), pp. 829-843 (15 pages).
  4. ^
  5. ^ Webb JF (November 1963). "Canadian Thalidomide Experience". Can Med Assoc J. 89: 987–92. PMC 1921912. PMID 14076167.


  • Abood, R.R., & Brushwood, D.B. (1994). Pharmacy practice and the law. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, Inc.
  • Krantz JC Jr., New Drugs and the Kefauver-Harris Amendment, J New Drugs, 1966, Mar-Apr;6(22):77-9
  • Krantz JC Jr., The Kefauver-Harris amendment after sixteen years, Mil Med. 1978 Dec;143(12):883.

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