Nissen, Juma have plan for Obama

Nature magazine has published letters to Obama from six key leaders, who want to give him a little advice.

It is no secret that Steven Nissen (photo), the vocal pharmaceutical industry critic and current candidate for FDA commissioner, believes the FDA needs significant reform.     

The Cleveland Clinic cardiologist is questioning whether the drug industry should continue to fund the FDA budget via user fees, because of the potential for undue influence on the agency.

Nissen is also a proponent of six-year terms for the FDA chief to help reduce the influence of political pressures on the individual taking that role and of increased transparency during the drug approval process. He supports giving the FDA the authority to limit direct-to-consumer advertising for the first two years a medication is on the market.

Many view Nissen as a watchdog of the pharmaceutical industry.

Also of note, Professor Calestous Juma, Director of the Science, Technology and Globalization Project at Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He emphasizes a focus on infrastructure in the U.S. to benefit both the U.S. and the global economy. 

Juma notably mentions Obama's choices for scientific advisors.

"In choosing John Holdren from the Harvard Kennedy School, as well as the biologists Jane Lubchenco, Harold Varmus and Eric Lander, the president has chosen a quartet of advisers who will think globally and act both globally and locally--perhaps more so than any of their predecessors," he writes. "The choices indicate that taking action to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss, to tackle climate change and to ensure that the poorest receive the best health care are regarded by the new administration as the right things to do."

- read the six letters in Nature
- see the Wall Street Journal blog post