HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New FDA Commissioner: Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg

According to various press reports, the new FDA Commissioner will be Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg.  Mark Gardiner of the New York Times reports,

President Obama intends to nominate Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, a former New York City health commissioner, to lead the Food and Drug Administration, sidestepping a battle between drug safety advocates and the drug industry, people briefed on the decision said. . . .

Dr. Hamburg, 53, will succeed Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, who led the beleaguered agency from 2005 until last January and often had to deflect critics who accused the Bush administration of letting politics play too forceful a role in science policy.  . . .

The F.D.A. is arguably the most important public health agency in the country, but its budget has lagged far behind those of agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A growing list of scandals has led a bipartisan chorus on Capitol Hill to demand major changes and larger budgets, with some legislators advocating that the F.D.A. be split in two. . . .

Dr. Hamburg, who was appointed by Mayor David N. Dinkins as acting commissioner in 1991 and became commissioner the following year, was one of the few top officials asked to remain when Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani took office in 1994. She was best known for developing a tuberculosis control program that produced sharp declines in the incidences of the disease in New York. Under her tenure, child immunization rates rose in the city.   She left New York in 1997 to become assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the federal Department of Health and Human Services, where she created a bioterrorism initiative and led planning for pandemic flu response . . .

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