As predicted, President Obama's went outside the usual suspects whose names kept being repeated back in January, in nominating his pick for FDA Commissioner. Former New York City health chief Margaret Hamburg is young, made positive changes during her tenure in New York City and has special expertise in bioterrorism and food safety. Baltimore health commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, 39 years old, would be deputy commissioner.
The president has said that he will ask Congress for $1 billion in funding to hire new FDA inspectors and laboratories. For Saturday's Associated Press video in which the president announced his pick for Commissioner and some of the reasons behind it, click here.
Will both food and drug safety be able to receive the same attention as both markets become so global and complex? Can one Agency truly do justice to both anymore?
At least the selection of a Commissioner with management and strong public health policy background is a step in the right direction. A deputy commissioner who has criticized the Agency's connections with the industry, as Dr. Sharfstein has, promises to change the status quo within FDA and the industry. Dr. Sharfstein issued this message to colleagues in Baltimore yesterday. I prefer to be an optimist---youth and energy will likely bring some positive change. As long as the science and risk-based approaches developed over the past decade don't get tossed out in favor of old fashioned traffic ticket writing---there aren't enough inspectors in the world to make that approach work anymore.
USP chief Roger Williams just sent this message of support today.