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Von Eschenbach in running for FDA job

Deadline for naming of permanent commissioner is approaching
 
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Speculation is mounting that Andrew von Eschenbach, acting commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is set to be nominated for the permanent job of running the regulatory agency.

Under US law, an acting commissioner can only serve up to 210 days before the president (George Bush) must designate a permanent commissioner. Von Eschenbach, 64, took the job temporarily in September after the resignation of Lester Crawford.

The FDA declined to comment on von Eschenbach' position. ìDr von Eschenbach defers to the White House to announce its intention regarding the nomination of FDA Commissioner,î it said in a statement. ìIn the meantime, he is pleased to serve as acting commissioner of the FDA at the request of the president and Secretary [Michael] Leavitt.î

Health and Human Services Secretary, Leavitt said last week that the White House would probably nominate a candidate ìin the very near futureî.

Some senators could oppose a von Eschenbach nomination; on his appointment as acting commissioner he was criticised for retaining his position as director of the National Cancer Institute, which some see as a conflict of interests. Von Eschenbach later gave up day to day running of the institute and has promised not to sit on or influence any discussions about cancer treatments.

US pharma industry association PhRMA refused to comment on its preferred candidate for the job although spokesman Jeff Trewhitt said von Eschenbach ìhas impressive research and management credentialsî.

30th September 2008

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