Who will take over at the FDA, HHS?

With a new presidential administration, of course, comes new agency leadership... and talk is already flying about appointees to your favorite health overseers, the Department of Health and Human Services and the FDA. All sorts of names have been bandied about, from politicians--former Sen. Tom Daschle or Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius or Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean--to FDA vets such as CDER chief Janet Woodcock (photo), whom the Wall Street Journal Health Blog calls "industry's favorite" candidate for the job.

Industry's least favorite for the FDA slot would have to be Steve Nissen (photo), a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist and frequent critic of the agency. He's been advising the Obama campaign and lobbying for a more arm's length relationship between the FDA and pharma. As you know, Nissen has made headlines for his safety critiques of meds such as GlaxoSmithKline's Avandia and Johnson & Johnson's Natrecor.

Then there are academics, such as David Blumenthal of Harvard, who's also director of the Massachusetts General Hospital's Institute for Health Policy. Blumenthal was a "major contributor" to Obama's health plan, In Vivo reports, and thus could be a strong candidate for several different jobs, including HHS.

Or take Mary Pendergast, who was up for the FDA post after David Kessler left; she's an industry consultant, "but not an industry groupie," the Health Blog reports. She's worked at Elan and now serves on the board of the biotech company Nuvelo. Or Robert Califf of Duke, who's well respected (but he has some industry relationships that might make him a non-starter in this fierce Congressional environment).

Whoever gets the jobs, the pharma industry is likely to see FDA and HHS take a harder line all the way around, the WSJ surmises. So hang onto your hats and stay tuned.

- read the Health Blog post
- see more names at In Vivo