The FDA played a major role in the government’s fight against Covid. A new commissioner is finally on the verge of being appointed.
They have been battered by a string of public controversies and have been placed under immense pressure by the workload of the pandemic.
Agency Can’t-Wait Any Longer For New Commissioner
President Joe Biden has stated that he is very close to naming the leader of the FDA. This news comes almost 9 months after searching for ahead.
The FDA oversees vaccines, drugs, and tests.
The agency’s beleaguered regulators, experts, and former FDA officials say that the decision cannot come soon enough.
An unproven new drug that is supposed to treat Alzheimer’s and contentious disputes over booster shots for Covid has threatened the agency’s reputation.
This reputation has been built by their rigorous, and science-based regulation.
Products have been reviewed by thousands of FDA staffers for over a year and a half.
Lawrence Gostin, a public health specialist at Georgetown University said that they have never seen the FDA under such a cloud.
He added that the vibrant future of the agency is on the line when it comes to picking the commissioner.
As the FDA faces more decisions related to Covid, the pressure is well and truly on as tens of millions of Americans will be affected. The performance of the nation against future waves of infection will also be determined by its decisions.
The scope of booster shots for adults will be decided on by the agency in the coming weeks.
Adults who received the Moderna and J&J vaccines are eligible for this.
A ruling will also be made by the regulators on whether Pfizer’s vaccine is safe for children under the age of 5.
Other high stake decisions like banning e-cigarettes from Juul and other manufacturers also add to the mounting pressure on the FDA.
Given the urgency of the pandemic, nominating the head of the FDA was expected to be a priority.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, the agency’s drug director for a long time, has been serving as the acting commissioner since January.
The White House has a deadline in the middle of November to name a replacement.
Biden is expected to make a decision by officials before the 15th of November.
A new urgency has been added to resolve the leadership question of the FDA as Dr. Francis Collins announced that he will be stepping down from his post.
The role of an acting head of an agency is mainly to caretake and they do not set new goals or priorities in general.
They will also not have as much influence to resolve conflicts between politicians and agency staff.
When two FDA vaccine regulators who had been working for a long-time opposed Biden’s plan to give boosters, this issue was unearthed.
Both of them threatened that they would retire from the agency.
Experts say that burnout will have to be eased, morale will have to be boosted and the agency’s public credibility will have to be repaired by the new commissioner of the FDA.
Dr. Stephen Ostroff said that by now, the nomination of a new commissioner should have already been settled.
Stephen is a former acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. He was also a chief scientist.
He wished that they would just get a person to be the face of the agency in the public and help people understand what is happening inside.
The increasingly political nature of the job has been reflected by the search for an FDA nominee which has been going on for months.
The number of qualified candidates is limited very severely.
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