Fleshing out new FDA leadership

Want to know more about Margaret "Peggy" Hamburg (photo), your presumptive FDA commissioner? Wall Street Journal Health Blog has a quick bio, and Time has compiled an executive summary of facts and quotes by or about the former New York City Health Commissioner; meanwhile, both the New York Times and Washington Post are reporting their versions of the Hamburg appointment news. 

She's compassionate ("She took care of me like a newborn," ex-New York mayor David Dinkins said.); she's strong (She can be tough when she needs to be, and she's going to need to be real tough in that job," said the chief of the American Public Health Association.). She's not afraid of debate; she supported a controversial needle exchange program designed to slow the spread of AIDS. And she comes from a family of groundbreakers: Her mother was the first black woman to attend Vassar College and first to get a medical degree at Yale.

Reportedly, we'll get the official word on Hamburg's appointment sometime this week, though this week is rapidly running out. And all reports put Baltimore Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein (photo) as her chief deputy. Word is that Hamburg will take the lead on food and Sharfstein will oversee drugs and devices.

Some even speculate that in appointing the duo, the Obama administration is signaling that it supports splitting the FDA into two agencies. "I think Dr. Hamburg will become the commissioner of food, since she's a safety and security person," former FDA commish Peter Pitts told the Times, "and then Dr. Sharfstein would slide into the F.D.A., which would become the Federal Drug Administration." What does the White House say to that? Nada, at least not yet.

- read the Time article
- see the post at the Health Blog
- find the NYT story
- check out the Post story