Magazine article Drug Topics

Right Stuff?

Magazine article Drug Topics

Right Stuff?

Article excerpt

Physician-USP chief likely to be first woman to lead FDA

It may be one of the worst-kept secrets in sieve-like Washington, D.C.-that Jane E. Henney, an oncologist, university official, and president of the U.S. Pharmacopeia, is widely expected to be appointed commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration. Rumors about her pending selection have floated about for months (Drug Topics, Jan. 5). But President Clinton seems in no hurry to send her name (or anyone else's) to the Senate for confirmation hearings and a vote.

An aide to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D, Mass.), Henney's strongest Senate supporter, said he had "given up" trying to predict when the White House would formally tap her as the first female FDA commissioner. It is known that FBI background investigations of Henney are under way.

Perhaps the White House doesn't want to rush. After all, the FDA post has only been officially vacant for more than a year, and its previous occupant, David Kessler, had alerted the White House in November 1996 that he wanted to leave. Henney served as Kessler's deputy commissioner for operations in 1991-94. Before that, she spent eight years at the National Cancer Institute, including five years as deputy director, and also was a vice chancellor at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Currently, she is a v.p. at the University of New Mexico's Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque.

During her stint at the FDA, Henney had line authority for the agency's daily activities. She oversaw the initial implementation of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, a highly successful venture that substantially reduced new drug approval times and was renewed last year. …

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