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Regime Change at the FDA
The Journal lauds the appointment of Dr. Andrew Von Eschenbach to replace outgoing FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford—not least because his appointment may indicate that the White House is finally making FDA reform a priority.
One encouraging sign that the Administration may finally be taking the FDA seriously is the appointment of National Cancer Institute chief Andrew von Eschenbach as acting commissioner. A renowned oncologist and cancer survivor himself, Dr. Eschenbach understands that the FDA's job isn't merely to police the pharmaceutical companies but also to speed good therapies to patients. He wants to "streamline and accelerate" the drug approval process, he has said. And he envisages a revolution toward individualized medicine based on the rapidly growing knowledge of "diseases like cancer at the molecular level." …
Critics also suggest that speedy approvals risk undermining sound science. But the FDA has long needed to recognize that there are valid modes of science beyond the randomized clinical trial. We'll expand further on this another day, but the White House could do much worse than nominate Dr. Eschenbach as permanent FDA chief to continue the promising work that Mark McClellan began before he was pulled away to run Medicare.
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