Hamburg Is Top Candidate to Head FDA, Wall Street Journal Says

Publication: Bloomberg

03/11/2009 - Margaret A. Hamburg , a former New York City health commissioner, is President Barack Obama’s leading candidate to run the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

The newspaper, citing “people familiar with the matter,” also reported that Joshua Sharfstein, commissioner of the Baltimore city health department since 2005, was likely to be chosen as Hamburg ’s deputy. An Obama spokesman, Reid Cherlin, said “no decision’s been made.”

If confirmed, Hamburg , a physician and bioterrorism expert, would take the helm after a salmonella outbreak traced to peanut products led to nine deaths and sickened more than 660 people, and a year after recalls of a blood thinner with a sometimes deadly ingredient traced to China. Obama last month promised a full review of the agency, which regulates products that account for $1 trillion in consumer spending and range from lipstick to heart stents.

“The FDA, as the nation’s largest regulatory agency, is on the hot seat to better protect Americans from a wide range of health risks,” said Shelley Hearne, managing director of the Pew Health & Human Services Policy Program, in Washington, in an e- mail before the announcement. “Americans will be able to better trust the safety of their foods and pharmaceuticals knowing that what they eat and what they’re prescribed should be safer under Peggy Hamburg ’s watch.”

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