FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to step down

By Stephen DANIELLS

- Last updated on GMT

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to step down

Related tags: Dietary supplement, Food and drug administration, Dr fabricant

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed media rumours that Dr Margaret Hamburg is stepping down from her role as Commissioner at the end of March, with Stephen Ostroff, MD, the FDA's chief scientist, serving as acting Commissioner.

"My tenure leading this Agency has been the most rewarding of my career, and that is due in no small part to all of you - the dedicated and hard-working people that make up the heart of this Agency,”​ she said in a memo sent to FDA staff this morning.

Nominated by President Barack Obama and supported by the Senate, Hamburg became the FDA’s 21st Commissioner in May 2009, and is the second longest serving head of the organization in the modern era.

‘More activity than ever before in supplements under Hamburg’

Daniel Fabricant, PhD, CEO of the Natural Products Association, served under Dr Hamburg during his time at the Agency and said that more happened during her time as Commissioner with regards to dietary supplements than at any other time.

“Steve Ostroff is really good,” ​added Dr Fabricant. “He understands things well. Like Hamburg he’s an MD, and like her he’s served his whole career in public health. I think he will continue to strike the right balance between protection and promotion of public health.”

Welch named acting supplements chief

In other developments at the Agency, Cara Welch, PhD, was recently named the new acting director of the Division of Dietary Supplement Programs. Dr Welch is known to many in industry as the former Sr VP of scientific and regulatory affairs with the NPA.

“Cara can walk the walk and talk the talk. She speaks the language of the Agency and the language of the industry,”​ said Dr Fabricant, who hired Dr Welch at the FDA before leaving to take the CEO position at NPA.

“I would imagine she will be acting director for quite a while.”

Mayne
Susan Mayne, PhD

Dr Susan Mayne has also taken her seat as the new director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), a move that was widely praised by industry last year given her scientific credentials​: She was formerly a professor at the Yale School of Public Health with areas of scientific research including the complex role of food, nutrition, and obesity, and other health behaviors, as determinants of chronic disease risk.

However, in a Q&A on the FDA website, Dr Mayne stated that she would be recused from issues involving the dietary supplement industry because her husband works for a pharmaceutical company that has a dietary supplement component, and he has related financial interests in the company.

“Accordingly, under the law, I must not work on official matters that can affect my husband’s company either directly or as part of a class. I will be relying on other leadership within OFVM and CFSAN to deal with dietary supplement issues.”

Related topics: Regulation, People

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