President Barack Obama’s top pick for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, Bioterrorsim expert and former New York City health commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, says that she wants to restore public confidence in the FDA, according to Boston.com.
She already has Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s support. “Her expertise is valuable for problems we now face, such as combating food-borne illness, cooperating with other agencies to address the new flu outbreak and drug-resistant diseases, and protecting our food and drug supplies,” Sen. Kennedy said in a statement for the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing.
If confirmed, one of Dr. Hamburg’s many priorities will be to detangle the mess left behind from last year’s contaminated heparin scandal, in which batches of tainted heparin manufactured in China made their way into the United States. Those bad batches killed more than 80 people and sickened hundreds more. An investigation resulted in the FDA’s admission that it did not have the resources or the funding to adequately inspect foreign food and drug manufacturing companies.
The agency’s handling of the heparin scandal is currently under review by the Government Accountability Office, and congressional leaders are not letting up on their insistence that the FDA make better provisions to ensure the food and drugs imported into the US are safe.
“It is abundantly clear that the agency needs strong, new leadership to improve morale and make it once again the world class agency that Americans can trust to protect the health of their families,” Sen. Kennedy wrote. “I’m very pleased, therefore, that President Obama has nominated Dr. Margaret Hamburg to lead the FDA as its new Commissioner.”