President BidenJoe Biden Bill Maher Says Cuomo Can’t Stay After Scandal: He’s Not ‘Donald Trump’ Senate Confirms Biden’s Pick for CNN Secretary of the Navy Jim Acosta in Delta Variation: ‘Why Not Call Him the DeSantis variant? ‘ MORE He has yet to nominate a permanent head of the Food and Drug Administration at a time when the government is navigating an increase in COVID-19 cases of the delta variant.
It’s unclear why the position remains vacant more than six months after Biden’s presidency, but some experts suggest that politics may be interfering.
Some Democratic senators are rejecting the prospect of Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock being appointed to the permanent position, but healthcare experts warn that the administration must fill the position immediately.
The tensions come as the FDA comes under increasing pressure to grant full approval for COVID-19 vaccines to increase confidence in injections and potentially the country’s vaccination rate, with only half of the population is now fully vaccinated.
The White House has insisted that they are taking their time so that Biden can nominate someone with the right experience for the job.
“The role of the FDA commissioner is vitally important, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have strong acting leadership that is playing an important role in our response to COVID-19 and beyond, and we look forward to sharing a candidate with the experience and leadership needed for this job, ”a White House officially told The Hill when He asked if the president is concerned about not having an FDA commissioner, since the delta variant increases the number of cases.
White House Press Secretary Jen psakiJen Psaki Booster Vaccine Debate Heats Up on World Stage Bars and Restaurants Move to Impose Vaccination Mandates Biden Thanks Olympians in Video on Twitter MORE He said he didn’t have an update on the weather when asked about the status of a permanent pick.
“Obviously the president would love to have a permanent election and wants to nominate the right person, but I don’t have an update on the schedule for that,” he said last week, adding that “the right person to nominate has not been identified yet. “.
Biden selected Woodcock, a longtime FDA regulator, to serve as acting commissioner in January, but he has since received pushback, even from senators and anti-opioid advocates in that move.
Several Democratic senators have voiced their opposition to Woodcock, citing his time at the FDA when opioid pain relievers were approved, which later contributed to an epidemic that has left many Americans dead.
“I continue to have concerns about Dr. Woodcock as a possible permanent FDA commissioner, especially given the role he played in the approval and labeling of opioid-based drugs,” Sen said. Maggie hassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanCornyn Reaches Agreement With White House On COVID-19 Money For Infrastructure White House Tries To Reject Cornyn Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Amendment Appoints New Watchdog At Financial Agency After Beleaguered IG leaves MORE (DN.H.), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement. “That is why I have asked President Biden to present an FDA commissioner who will act independently of the industry he or she regulates.”
Senator Joe manchinJoe Manchin McConnell urges Biden to recall conflicting ATF nominee Bipartisan infrastructure bill gives taxpayers a good investment of their money Garland asks Congress to act on voting rights in opinion piece MORE (DW.Va.), a centrist, has also called the administration prioritize the appointment of a different commissioner, citing concerns about the opioid epidemic and the controversial FDA approval of the Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm.
“Dr. Woodcock is not the right person to lead the FDA,” he wrote in a June letter to Biden.
Two months earlier, Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoCornyn Reaches Agreement with White House on COVID-19 Money for Infrastructure White House Tries to Reject Cornyn’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Amendment Graham’s COVID-19 ‘Breakthrough’ Case Shakes Senate MORE (D-Nev.) He vowed to oppose a possible Woodcock nomination.
His prospects have not improved over the summer.
In a statement, Sen. Ed markeyEd Markey Senate Democrats to Introduce Measure Taxing Top Polluters Senators Democrats Present Resolution for COVID-19 Memorial Day Human Rights Can’t Be a Lamb Slaughtered for Climate Action MORE (D-Mass.) He called for a “permanent, qualified and trustworthy” commissioner to address the pandemic and the opioid epidemic. Without specifically mentioning Woodcock, he said, “The FDA needs a leader who learns from the agency’s past mistakes to make sure it never makes them again.”
Other floating names for commissioner include: Zeke Emanuel, former health policy adviser in the Obama administration and architect of the Affordable Care Act of 2010;
Michelle McMurry-Heath, Executive Director of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization; Katherine Luzuriaga, director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences at the University of Massachusetts; and Florence Houn, who worked at the FDA for multiple administrations.
Experts said they are puzzled by the delay in appointing a commissioner amid a pandemic.
Scott Becker, executive director of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, called it “very strange” that there is no permanent director or even a nomination in the works, and said he would have hoped that “this would have been one of the first agencies” in Get your leader confirmed.
“Now is the time to nominate someone … like three months ago, I would have said the same thing,” he said.
Some experts emphasized that it is more important to get the right candidate than to rush him in the Senate.
“The administration has taken a long time to make a decision,” said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research. “It makes it even more important that they make the right decision, not just that they are forced to make a decision in the next X weeks or months.”
Zuckerman called on the Biden administration to prioritize choosing a nominee with a “very strong public health outlook,” noting that Woodcock has become an “unsustainable” candidate amid opposition and “controversial” decisions in the agency during his tenure, which dates back to 1986.
Still, Anna Abram, an FDA deputy commissioner during the Trump administration, said public pressure to nominate a permanent agency leader may be more limited because Woodcock is “a firm hand at the helm.”
“But that doesn’t change the fact that there is a clock ticking and this … really significant unfinished business of what the plan is for the FDA,” he said, noting that permanent positions in the Department of Health and Human Services are have packed.
“How does the tremendous importance and impact that this agency has and its importance square with the fact that they have not come up with a candidate to lead the agency in the long term?” she said. “That is a bit difficult to reconcile.”
Amid the delay, the FDA is facing calls from the public to provide full approval of any of the three COVID-19 vaccines to reduce vacillation among unvaccinated individuals and to authorize the injection for children under 12 as they are the school year is approaching. Some experts are also applying to the FDA for booster vaccines for vulnerable populations.
The role of the FDA commissioner is especially challenging right now as the administration navigates the best messages to increase confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine. Scott Gottlieb, who served as FDA commissioner under the former President TrumpDonald Trump Bill Maher Says Cuomo Can’t Stay After Scandal – He’s Not a ‘Donald Trump’ Former Acting Attorney General Testifies Before Panel Investigating Election Interference Republican Senator Promises To Delay Infrastructure Bill T, Which triggered a showdown MORE, constantly shares his vision in the media on the coronavirus, highlighting the demands of being a commissioner.
Daniel Fabricant, director of the FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs under Obama, said having someone in the commissioner’s office “fuels dialogue, puts dialogue back in the place of science. They need someone to direct the conversation publicly and to direct it outside, perhaps, of political will. “
“COVID is a very tall shadow hanging over the agency, and I believe that someone, regardless of who the commissioner is, will have to reconcile the COVID issues and that is a tall order,” Fabricant said. “It’s a blood sport right now.”