FDA Cancels Study of How it Can Use Drones to Conduct Inspections

Posted 19 December 2014 By Alexander Gaffney, RAC

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is no longer considering the use of aerial drones to help assist its on-site inspections of facilities, less than 24 hours after initially saying feasibility studies were in the works.

As first reported by Regulatory Focus, on 16 December 2014 FDA sent an email to staff indicating that it planned to test the use of drone technology for its potential applications “in the areas of manufacturing site inspections, farm inspections, or land area inspection surveillance.”

The “preliminary feasibility testing” would explore “possible applications of drone technology in fulfillment of the agency’s mission,” Andrea Fischer, an FDA spokeswoman, told Focus. FDA has “no formal drone program in development,” she emphasized.

Initial testing of the drones was to take place on 17 December 2014 and be run by FDA’s Office of Informatics and Technology Innovation (OITI)—an office which seeks to leverage emerging technologies for the benefit of FDA.

However, FDA now appears to have had second thoughts about the program before it has even begun.

In a new statement to Regulatory Focus, Fischer said FDA has now canceled all future testing of drone technologies.

FDA is “not exploring this technology for inspections or surveillance,” Fischer told Focus.

“FDA would like to underscore that the Agency does not have an aerial device (or “drone”) program in place,” Fischer wrote. “The e-mail that was sent to DC-area FDA employees this week related to testing that FDA’s Office of Informatics and Technology Innovation (OITI) was planning to do on emerging technologies for research and development purposes.”

The initial test of the drone never occurred, Fischer added.

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Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President and CEO of Ortho Spine Partners and sits on several company and industry related Boards. He also is the Creator and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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