Want the skinny on the acting FDA chief straight from the horse's mouth? You're in luck. His first full day on the job, Dr. Frank Torti penned a "viewpoint" memo, which you can read--or listen to--on the FDA website. (Thanks to Eye on FDA for the link.) He begins with a sort of disclaimer: The job of Acting Commissioner is tougher than that of a permanent one, because agency staff tend to look askance at a temporary chief's orders. After all, an acting chief may not be acting for long.
But, Torti says, the FDA needs help--now. He asked Congress to help reshape the agency and provide the necessary resources and powers to get the job done. He emphasized the role of "scientific thought and process" in regulatory decisions, perhaps in response to those agency scientists who recently accused management of engendering a "culture of corruption" where science takes a backseat. And he specifically said that politics should have "no standing in regulatory decisions."
Promising pledges. But as Eye on FDA notes, with so much reform needed at the agency, the Obama administration needs to get a move on and appoint a permanent commissioner. Because whether his staffers listen and obey or not, Torti can't take on the kind of sweeping overhaul that a permanent commissioner can.