Who will be the next FDA chief?
Tue, 02/23/2021 – 02:00
Leadership remains in limbo at FDA, whose reputation was battered during the Trump administration’s last year. President Joe Biden has yet to name a new director for the agency, which has a vital role in reviewing new vaccines and coronavirus therapies. Lawmakers, public health experts, members of the medical community, and the health and drug industries are using the gap in decisionmaking to promote their preferred candidates and to debate the qualifications needed for a new leader to return FDA to the public’s good graces. As it stands, the two front-runners for the position are Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcook, MD, and Joshua Sharfstein, who held the No. 2 spot at the regulator under President Obama. White House officials say the pair have been at least partially vetted for the job but that the administration has been preoccupied with addressing snags in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout process. Another holdup, they add, is GOP opposition to the nomination of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to the position of HHS secretary, who historically has a say in the choice of FDA commissioner.