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Not Yet a Permanent One

President Joe Biden has yet to name a permanent head of the US Food and Drug Administration, a state of affairs NPR says has "flummoxed" public health officials.

Former FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn resigned from the post with the change in administrations, leaving Janet Woodcock to serve as the acting commissioner. In the time since, there have been numerous calls to name a permanent head, especially as the agency is a key part of the US COVID-19 pandemic response.

NPR adds that now, more than 10 months after the election, the lack of a permanent agency head is both "demoralizing" FDA staff and giving "the wrong message about the agency's importance."

It notes that an incoming permanent commissioner would have to wade through controversies surrounding the agency, not just ones related to the COVID-19 pandemic like vaccine boosters, but also vaping and the approval of a Alzheimer's disease treatment. A number of names for the post had been bandied about earlier this year, NPR adds, including Woodcock, but also Joshua Sharfstein, a former deputy commissioner at FDA, former FDA official Michelle McMurry-Heath, and others but it says the process then "seemed to deadlock."

The Scan

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