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All Sorts of New Things

As Margaret Hamburg steps down from her six-year stint as the commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, she tells NPR's Robert Siegel that what she has learned is "to be prepared for the unexpected."

"Certainly, many of the kinds of products that we're regulating now were products that I had never dreamed of before either during my medical training or even when I took on the mantle of FDA commissioner," she tells Siegel.

For instance, e-cigarettes were just entering the scene in 2009, and 3D-printed body parts still seemed a thing of the future.

Hamburg also addresses criticism put forth by the group Public Citizen about FDA's relationship with drug companies. She argues that the agency has to partner with industry and academia while also modernizing and streamlining regulatory review and keeping to safety and efficacy standards.

"We joke at the FDA that there are only two speeds of approval — too fast and too slow," Hamburg tells Siegel. "And people's assessment of is it too fast or is it too slow, I think, depends on the particular circumstance and their particular needs."