President Joe Biden hasn’t nominated a permanent head for the Food and Drug Administration despite pharmaceutical companies seeking full approval for their COVID-19 vaccines.
It is not clear why someone has not been nominated six months into the presidency. But some experts believe it may be due to politics.
Currently, some Democrats are pushing for acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock to be nominated. But as pressure for a COVID-19 vaccine to gain full approval continues to mount, some health experts are warning that the position needs to be filled immediately.
But the White House has stated that Biden is taking his time so he can find the right fit.
One White House official said “the role of FDA commissioner is critically important,” according to The Hill, “especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have strong acting leadership in place that is playing an important role in our COVID-19 response and beyond, and look forward to sharing a nominee with the requisite expertise and leadership for this job.”
Additionally, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she was unsure of a timeframe for a nomination.
“Obviously,” she says, “the president would love to have a permanent pick in place and wants to nominate the right person, but I don’t have an update on the timeline for that…[He] has not identified the right person to nominate quite yet.”
Biden picked Woodcock in January, but rescinded the choice after pushback from senators and anti-opioid advocates.
Sen. Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said in a statement that she continues to “have concerns about Dr. Woodcock as a potential permanent FDA Commissioner, especially given the role she played in approving and labeling opioid-based medications. That’s why I’ve called on President Biden to put forward an FDA commissioner who will act independently from the industry that he or she regulates.”