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FDA commissioner steps down in March

Published on 05/02/15 at 02:16pm
Hamburg image
Dr Margaret Hamburg

The commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration Dr Margaret Hamburg is to resign from her post at the end of March.

Hamburg who has been leading the agency for almost six years, is set to be temporarily replaced by the US regulator’s chief scientist Stephen Ostroff as acting commissioner until a permanent replacement is found.

US president Barack Obama personally selected Hamburg as commissioner of the FDA at the beginning of 2009 to succeed Dr Andrew von Eschenbach, saying at the time: "Dr Hamburg brings to this vital position not only a reputation of integrity but a record of achievement in making Americans safer and more secure."

The 59-year-old also worked in the second term of Bill Clinton's administration prior to the appointment, and going back further, after completing her medical degree Hamburg conducted research in neurology, but soon entered the field of public health.

She joined the US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in 1986 and secured her reputation by fighting the spread of TB in New York as the city's deputy health commissioner in the 1990s.

Just last year she presided over the FDA approving 51 new drugs, said to be most in just under 20 years. Posting in a blog Hamburg called this milestone "a testament ... to FDA's innovative approaches to help expedite development and review of medical products that target unmet medical needs".

Only last week Hamburg was making changes at the regulator in appointing industry veteran Dr Robert Califf as the FDA’s deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco.

But quite why she has chosen to step down at this particular time remains a little unclear, but in a statement Hamburg says: "It is with very mixed emotions that I write today to inform you that I plan to step down as FDA Commissioner at the end of March 2015.

"As you can imagine, this decision was not easy. My tenure leading this agency has been the most rewarding of my career, and that is due in no small part to all of you - the dedicated and hard-working people that make up the heart of this agency.

Brett Wells

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