The next FDA commissioner is...

...still waiting to be named.

By | February 24, 2009

Valentines Day has come and gone, and still President Barack Obama has not named a head for the embattled US Food and Drug Administration. We linkurl:reported;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/55352/ in January that the search had narrowed to two individuals -- Baltimore city health commissioner linkurl:Joshua Sharfstein;http://www.ci.baltimore.md.us/mayor/cabinet.php and Duke University cardiologist linkurl:Robert Califf;http://www.dukemedicine.org/Leadership/Administration/CaliffRobert -- but now it appears that the script has slightly flipped.
Sharfstein
According to the linkurl:__Washington Post__,;http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/17/AR2009021703177.html Sharfstein is still in the running, but Califf has been replaced by linkurl:Margaret Hamburg,;http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_136.html an AIDS researcher with an impressive resume. Hamburg, a Harvard Medical School grad, was the New York City health commissioner for much of the 1990s, and before that served as assistant director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. In the Clinton administration, Hamburg served as assistant secretary for policy and evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Though it was reported that Califf and Sharfstein were interviewed by former HHS secretary-designate Tom Daschle, much has changed in the interim. For one, Daschle's tax indiscretions landed him in some hot Congressional water and led to him withdrawing his nomination. Also, the economic stimulus bill's wild ride through Capitol Hill and the FDA's peanut butter woes may have diverted the Administration's attention away from picking the agency's next leader.
Hamburg
The choice of FDA commissioner will help set the scene for the biobusiness community in the coming years, but the industry isn't speaking up about the two top candidates. Billy Tauzin, president and CEO of industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), told __The Scientist__ only that his organization eagerly awaits the naming of the next FDA commissioner. "We look forward to President Barack Obama's expeditious selection of a full-time leader for the FDA," Tauzin wrote in an emailed statement. "Due to the vital nature of the FDA's public health oversight, identifying a strong, independent FDA Commissioner should be among the next accomplishments of the new Administration." Another industry group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), declined to comment on the imminent appointment.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:And then there were two;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/55352/
[23rd January 2009]*linkurl:The between team;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55329/
[12th January 2009]

Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 15

February 24, 2009

The next FDA commissioner will need to have steady nerves and a truly independent spirit to resist the blandishments of a pharmaceutical industry accustomed to being rubber stamped.\n\nConsumers continue to be harmed by lax oversight and too close relationships with drug companies. Lest anyone criticize on the basis of the supposed altruistic motives of drug developers, let the potentially criminal wrongdoing of Merck in the development and marketing of Vioxx inform your comments.\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 50

February 25, 2009

Intense, subtle, overt and underhand lobbying has been practiced by the chemical, pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries right from the start, often with disastrous results.\n\nThink of CFCs, lead in petrol, numerous pharmaceuticals, and (according to some) GM crops.\n\nOf course there have been many benefits. Most of what we have is made of chemicals. But the global and strategic costs, which are the hardest to evaluate, must also be considered.\n\nThe problem to be solved is how to enable enterprises to invest prudently hundreds of millions of dollars/euros on a product or technology, without them becoming so committed that they don't see the short term, long term and global risks, nor the possible alternatives.\n\nThe behaviour pattern most simply described as "lobbying" is too widespread to be interpreted in simplistic terms such as greed and hunger for power. This subject should be studied urgently, and the results published both in the scientific literature and in a form that is accessible to the general public worldwide.\n

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