Tuesday, February 3, 2009


What Counts at HHS and FDA....?

Now that Tom D. has withdrawn his nomination as HHS secretary, we are left with the inevitable speculations. Some blogs make it a kind of sport to predict likely choices - a bit like who will win the Superbowl, etc.

Here at Lil, we find that, well, kinda boring. More interesting would be the criteria that readers deem essential either in an HHS secretary or FDA Commish. And so we open this thread with that in mind. These questions:

- What do we really need in both positions?

- How much is prior FDA experience a help or a hindrance?

- What kind of _potential_ COIs, or earlier associations, ought to count as disqualifying in your view.

The floor is open.


  1. I will take a crack at my own post.

    I was, at best, skeptical at the announcement of Daschle in the first place. He is someone whose de facto lobbying on behalf of those whose interests are against meaningful healthcare reform seemed dubious to me. In that respect, I am not sorry to see him go.

    In the meantime, our new President's policy seems dangerously adrift. As everyone now knows, Judd Gregg was in favor of deep-sixing the very agency to which he has been appointed chief. The parallels to Dan Troy are hard to avoid. More broadly, Gregg has been an opponent of signiticant healthcare reform (even though not his immediate bailiwick) for a long time. A lot of dedicated people struggling in the memory of Paul Wellstone fought for many years in order to achieve parity between mental health and other medical claims. On several key occasions, it was Gregg who, single-handedly, slammmed the door on that reform. He is rightfully (so to speak) labeled as a reactionary on several key issues.

    Many of us will agree that ideology for its own sake has its limits. But we might also agree that there are real and fundamental differences in political philosophies, each with a consistent logic and constituency, when it comes to key visions of what we, as a country, need.

    In the interest of what increasingly looks like a superficial bow to "diversity," I fear our President will end up with what is, in effect, not pragmatic compromise, but a not-viable, unprincipled, impractical, mess.

  2. Well Kennedy sponsored Califf and Peter Pitts at DrugWonks is promoting him.


    As for the other front runner Scharfstein, he was recently endorsed by Waxman with Grassley at Waxman's side.

    Need I say more?


  3. Needed in both positions: Truth, Justice and the American Way.

    Prior FDA experience: Not needed, but would not be a hindrance if the right individual is found.

    COI’s: Disqualifiers are pharma lobbyists and anyone who supports FDA preemption. Oh, and tax evaders.

  4. Peter Pitts also recomended McClellan to replace Daschle on the WSj blog. McClellan is the Leonard D. Schaeffer Director's Chair in Health Policy at Brookings...UNH likely would not be happy to see a Wellpoint chair get the HHS position. You know, I was wondering why someone like Dr McClellan would go on a bus tour to promote Medicare Part D...
    Anne PME

  5. McClellan is not change I can believe in. Lord save us.

  6. I was thinking Sharfstein too!

    As for skills needed:

    1.) Masters level in Bio Ethics
    2.) Medical Doctor
    3.) MBA
    4.) Scientist/Research experience
    5.) Transparency and full disclosure of all COI


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