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A View from David Ewing Duncan

Interview With the New FDA Head

Margaret Hamburg has an Obama-like energy. She’ll need it to reform and rebuild an agency that has been in trouble for years

  • October 14, 2009

Last week Margaret Hamburg took time out during a health care summit at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio to talk to me about finding more money for the agency, making it tougher and stronger, and restoring the public’s faith in the FDA.

Below are some outtakes from the interview. Margaret Hamburg was named in March by President Obama and confirmed in May as the 21st commissioner (and second woman) to head this agency that oversees $2 trillion of what Americans spend on products.

First, I want to restore faith and trust in the FDA as a science-driven agency. I want to be a vocal advocate for the resources we require. It’s stunning how underfunded we are given the importance of what we do. 25% of every dollar spent by Americans is regulated by the FDA.

During a crisis we have to not be afraid to communicate rather than circle the wagons, which has happened before. We have been taking a very clear-eyed look at past problems to learn from those mistakes.

We’re undermining our own best interests if we have a very robust investment in biomedical research and a scrawny investment in regulatory science and support for the FDA.

We are starting up a new center for tobacco products, and we’ve hired on a terrific new director. We will be moving forward on areas of labeling and issues around the marketing of tobacco products, especially marketing to youth.

Check out my complete interview with the new FDA commissioner here.

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