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Sat Jun 12, 2021, 08:00 PM

F.D.A. Still Lacks a Permanent Commissioner

The contested decision by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this week to approve a drug to treat Alzheimer’s has renewed concerns about the Biden administration’s prolonged delay in choosing a permanent commissioner to lead the agency.

It has also once again exposed the sharp divide between supporters and detractors of the F.D.A.’s interim commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock, the longtime chief of the agency’s drug division who has seemed to be on an extended tryout for the top post.

To Alzheimer’s patient advocacy groups, which had called for Dr. Woodcock’s nomination back in February when the application for the drug, aducanumab by Biogen, was pending, its approval was a sign that they backed the right candidate.

But Dr. Woodcock’s decision to allow the accelerated approval of aducanumab over the overwhelming opposition of the agency’s own independent advisory panel has provided further ammunition to her critics, including a group of leading Senate Democrats who consider her too close to the pharmaceutical industry.


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