Walter G. Campbell
Pure Food and Drug Act signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt, 1906. As time wore on, it became clear that a stronger, more a enforceable law was needed and in 1938 the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was passed.
Campbell was born in Kentucky and attended the University of Kentucky, earning a B.A. in 1902. Three years later he received a law degree from the University of Louisville. In 1907 Campbell took the Civil Service examination in order to become an inspector for the enforcement of the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act, then administered by the Bureau of Chemistry of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Shortly thereafter Harvey Wiley, head of the bureau and driving force behind the 1906 law, handpicked Campbell for the position of chief inspector.
When Wiley retired in 1912, Campbell was offered his position as chief of the bureau. Campbell refused, however, strongly believing that such a position would be best filled by a chemist, not by a lawyer. In 1914, when the district system was instituted, Campbell became chief of the Eastern District, and by 1917, he was assistant chief of the USDA. Ten years later he moved to the position of chief of the newly created Food, Drug, and Insecticide Administration (later known as the Food and Drug Administration).
Throughout his career at the USDA and the FDA, Campbell was extremely dedicated to enforcing food and drug legislation. Through his work he began to notice the shortcomings of the landmark 1906 law and the need for new legislation. For example, the 1906 law did not address the growing cosmetics industry. Nor did it adequately control false advertising of drugs, food adulteration, or the so-called patent medicines—popular tonics, typically with a high alcohol content, that claimed to cure a variety of ailments and were widely available, with or without a prescription.
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Excerpted with permission, Chemical Heritage Foundation