White House Still Silent on Permanent FDA Commissioner Pick

October 11, 2021

The White House continues to offer scant details on who its permanent pick to head the FDA might be, although Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock legally can only stay in that position through Nov. 15.

An agency veteran since 1986, Woodcock has come under heavy fire over the FDA’s response to the decades-long opioid epidemic and for her perceived friendliness to industry, which she refers to as “partners.” She has also come under fire for the agency’s controversial approval of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm (aducanumab) in June.

As recently as last week the White House was offering only vague hints of its thinking with regard to a possible replacement. “We have strong acting [FDA] leadership in place that is playing an important role in our COVID-19 response and beyond and look forward to sharing a nominee with the required expertise and leadership for this job,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, White House principal deputy press secretary.

“So, hopefully, we’ll have something soon to share,” Jean-Pierre added, but declined to offer more specifics on timing. Also last week, President Biden was equally vague, saying only that “we’ll be talking about that in a little bit,” when asked if his administration had chosen a permanent FDA commissioner.

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