Sharfstein looks to be on FDA short list

One of the rumored candidates for the top post at FDA--Baltimore Health Department chief Joshua Sharfstein--has been tapped to head up a team charged with assessing the agency. Pundits say that puts Sharfstein on a short list of folks most likely to get President-elect Barack Obama's nod as the next FDA commissioner.

A former aide to perennial pharma critic Rep. Henry Waxman, Sharfstein has followed in his erstwhile boss's footsteps, assailing drugmakers for cozying up to doctors and successfully lobbying FDA to ban OTC cough and cold meds for small children. Sharfstein is very pro-vaccine, however, pushing for mandatory shots in the face of parental worries about potential mercury contamination.

No decision appears imminent on the FDA post, but Sharfstein and another potential leader are giving pharma pause, the Wall Street Journal reports. Both Sharfstein and Dr. Steve Nissen (of Avandia-risk fame) would be likely to toughen the agency's stance on industry. This week, Nissen said in a speech that FDA should require companies to prove their drugs save lives, rather than show they reached some marker such as blood-sugar reduction in diabetes.

- see the WSJ story
- read the post at WSJ's Health Blog