President Joe Biden has yet to nominate someone to lead the US Food and Drug Administration, an opening the New York Times calls "glaring" in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It adds that both Joshua Sharfstein, who was deputy commissioner at FDA during the Obama Administration, and Janet Woodcock, the current acting commissioner, are under consideration for the position and have both undergone some vetting for the position. Others — including David Kessler, a former FDA commissioner; Amy Abernethy, FDA's principal deputy commissioner; and Luciana Borio, a former acting chief scientist at FDA — have also been floated as candidates.
According to the Times, the selection is under particularly high scrutiny. In addition to the agency's involvement in reviewing new vaccines and treatments for SARS-CoV-2, it oversees other drugs, medical devices, and tobacco. It adds that the central point of contention between the candidates centers on how the next commissioner would juggle the agency's mission to both get drugs to market and the need to ensure they are safe and effective.
"I'm surprised it's become such a public discussion for this particular job," Wayne Pines, a public relations specialist who advised former FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, tells the Times. "That has never really happened before."