The End of an Era? Chris Watts to Leave FDA

Today, Chris Watts, last of the PAT Team leaders to have stayed at FDA, will be leaving the Agency. He has been with FDA for eight years, and plans to return to California, and the San Diego area. Of his stint at the Agency, he writes, "The experience far exceeded my expectations . . . and I can only hope that future opportunities offer as much." Of course, biopharm company recruiters will want to take note that such talent might be available, locally. Well-rounded, like all members of the PAT team, Dr. Watts is an industrial pharmacist, but received his B.S. in biomedical engineering, and doctorate in pharmaceutics.

The one and only PAT Team leader who could truly be described as "low key," Dr. Watts was the perfect foil for Ajaz Hussain and Ali Afnan, always quietly authoritative and an outstanding spokesman for science-based manufacturing. If they were the "three tenors" of PAT, Ajaz was Pavarotti, Ali, Domingo....Chris Watts was the less flamboyant but equally talented Carreras, Chris Wattsexcept that he looked more like one of the Beach Boys.

For an interview that Chris gave Emil Ciurczak a few years ago, when he was team leader for standards and technology at OPS, click here. For a nostalgic piece on the PAT Team, read on. And click here for an interview with Drs. Watts and Afnan after Dr. Hussain left FDA.

Perhaps Dr. Watts' departure symbolizes the end of an era at FDA--an interesting time where thinkers openly questioned the basic premises underlying the day to day operations of the industry, and the Agency--a time of introspection and evangelism.

Today, of necessity, a more pragmatic spirit is taking over at the Agency. Will a combination of zealous but targeted enforcement by FDA, and economic reality, convince managers at more pharmaceutical companies to embrace different ways of doing things? Clearly, enlightened self interest wasn't, by itself, enough to drive fundamental change.

We'll have to see.

In the meantime, Dr. Watts exemplifies a new breed of industrial pharmacists, with multidisciplinary training. We wish him continued success in his career, wherever it takes him.


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