Yesterday, a Senate committee traded statements with FDA nominee Dr. Margaret "Peggy" Hamburg, and the operation was so friendly, so convivial even, that we couldn't help fantasizing about the postcards--or emails--they might have exchanged instead.
The agency President Obama has asked me to lead is downhearted and blue. The public doesn't know what to think of the high-profile mistakes it has made. If you let me have the job, I'll do my darnedest to prevent massive recalls of peanut products and other foods. It's a definite priority. But I'll also focus on drug and device safety, too. Because after a rash of drug warnings and recalls, the citizens are no less worried about the pills they take daily.
On the other hand, for my potential pro-business detractors, we can't let caution override innovation. There's got to be a balance. Plus, if you're worried about all those reports that I'd split duties with my deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein--giving him drugs and devices while I take food--well, you can stop worrying. All untrue. I'll be the boss. So .... what do you think? Am I in?
Sincerely, Dr. Peggy Hamburg.
Dear Dr. Hamburg (or may we call you Peggy?),
You're well qualified, and we like that. We want you to get confirmed quickly so you can get to work on the problems you outlined, and whichever skeletons you find when you start digging through FDA's closets. In fact, we like you so much, we'll help you do your job once you've moved into your new office.
Please do us a favor and get to work on that H1N1 flu. And make sure imported foods and drugs are safe. We're tired of getting complaints from constituents every time FDA announces a recall. Okay? Thanks. See you in Washington, then.
Sincerely, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
- read the New York Times story