Acting FDA Commissioner Andrew vonEschenbach, MD, is giving up his secondjob. He is resigning from his position asdirector of the National Cancer Institute(NCI), a position he has held since 2002.Since being appointed to head the FDA inSeptember 2005, Dr. von Eschenbach hasfaced criticism from lawmakers and consumergroups that say that both agenciesneed permanent, full-time leaders. He hasturned daily operations over to a deputychief and recused himself from mattersthat involved both agencies.
During a recent meeting of the Foodand Drug Law Institute, Dr. von Eschenbachpledged to find ways toimprove the FDA process and to shortendrug-review times. Critics, however, saidthat hastening FDA procedures may leadto rushed views of a new drug's sideeffects and approval of medicines that aredangerous. "Rapid does not mean reckless.We don't have to sacrifice any of thequality by improving the rate," he rebutted.
He also expanded on his recentremarks that medicines need to be notjust safe and effective, but also appropriate."We have to get the right thing to theappropriate person. That's a whole dimensionI think needs to be mulled over andchewed on and understood in terms ofwhat the implication is," he said.
Dr. von Eschenbach was appointed tohead the FDA following the sudden resignationof Lester Crawford, DVM, PhD. InMarch 2006, President George W. Bushnominated him to permanently run theFDA. A Senate vote is needed to confirmthe appointment.