President Donald Trump has shown more interest in FDA than most recent presidents, prompting speculation in Washington that he plans to rapidly appoint an activist commissioner. Trump fueled the rumors when he told pharma CEOs on Jan. 31 that he had selected a “fantastic person” to lead the agency who would be named “fairly soon.”
In fact, the announcement is a month to six weeks away, and Senate confirmation might not come until June, according to people who are helping nominees prepare to run the confirmation gauntlet.
If FDA drifts along without a permanent commissioner until June or later, it wouldn’t be the first time the agency has functioned for a prolonged period without a confirmed head.
The Obama administration’s first commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, didn’t take office until the third week of May 2009. After she resigned in April 2015, there was almost a 10-month gap until Robert Califf was confirmed.