Friday, April 18, 2008

The Other FDA Drug Chief

The drug industry is breathing a sigh of relief now that Janet Woodcock has permanently assumed the role as head of FDA's drug center.

But let's say Woodcock had turned down returning to oversee the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, who would have been Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach's next choice? Well, you can take a look at my incredibly accurate odds-making piece I wrote a few months ago. There were a number of internal candidates who may have been the choice. To read it, click here.

However, if von Eschenbach had decided to look outside, there were a number of names being thrown around as candidates. Two that I've mentioned before are Cornell pharmacologist Marcus Reidenberg and former University of Utah cardiologist Jeffrey Anderson. You can read a little more about them in The RPM Report by clicking here (registration required for non-subscribers).

Recently, I learned that another outside candidate was being pushed heavily by former FDA officials: Indiana University pharmacologist David Flockhart.

Flockhart appears to be exactly the type of candidate the agency would have been looking for in an external contender. Flockhart, chief of the division of clinical pharmacology at Indiana, is a believer in the personalized medicine revolution and the basic tenets behind FDA's Critical Path Initiative. To read more about his points of view on medicine, science, genetic testing and drug safety, click here.

A former Georgetown University researcher, Flockhart is credited with establishing Indiana as a site for NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences’ Pharmacogenetics Research Network. He received his MD from the University of Miami School of Medicine and PhD from the Welsh National School of Medicine in Cardiff.

So why does this matter? Well, it's interesting, isn't it? But more importantly, these are the types of thought leaders to keep on your radar for later down the road in different administrations or as possible liaisons between FDA and the academic world for key FDA/NIH/CMS initiatives. That's why they matter.

I'll keep my ear to the ground for other candidates that were interviewed or championed for the CDER director position so we can start a whole web series on "People Who Weren't Named CDER Director."

Finally, tune in next week for my Personalized Medicine Mailbag blog post. I wanted to thank everyone for the overwhelming response to my personalized medicine post. Apparently, people care about this issue. It's not too late to email me with your take on the personalized medicine vs. cost effectiveness debate.

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