President set to name Dr. von Eschenbach as head of FDA

March 16, 2006

The White House is expected to nominate the acting commissioner of the FDA, urologist Andrew von Eschenbach, MD, to formally head the agency, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

The White House is expected to nominate the acting commissioner of the FDA, urologist Andrew von Eschenbach, MD, to formally head the agency, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. Dr. von Eschenbach, previously executive vice president of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, Houston, took the FDA position while retaining his role as director of the National Cancer Institute.

“He’d be a great FDA commissioner,” James Greenwood, of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, told the newspaper. “But we’ve learned that it’s easier to confirm a Supreme Court Justice than it is an FDA commissioner.”

Any FDA nominee will come under pressure from both ends of the political spectrum, according to the article. Aside from highly charged reproductive-rights matters, Dr. von Eschenbach likely will face difficult questions over a range of FDA-related issues as well as his dual job at the FDA and the NCI, which he has headed since 2002.